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Biden says Democrats must run on what he and Obama have done

February 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden says that Democrats running for president in 2016 should embrace the record that he and President Barack Obama have built.

Biden on Thursday predicted a further economic resurgence if the U.S. follows policies that have proved successful.

“Run — yes, run — on what we have done,” Biden told a crowd at Drake University.

While on a visit to Iowa, which will kick off the state-by-state presidential nominating calendar in early 2016, Biden did not offer any insight into his own political plans. The visit fueled speculation about Biden’s future, but there have been few signs that he was taking steps toward a third run for the presidency.

Obama, who is barred from a third term, has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence as his poll numbers have ticked up along with economic indicators. He took credit for the recovery in his recent State of the Union address to Congress, pointing to his administration’s post-crisis stimulus and economic policies.

Biden said that Democrats, not too long ago, were distancing themselves from the Obama administration, and said continuing that would be a “terrible mistake.” He was alluding to last year’s run-up to the November congressional elections, when Democratic candidates largely abandoned an unpopular president, and went on to lose big, as Republicans captured the Senate and widened their majority in the House of Representatives.

Biden said the next election will come down to a choice between continuing Obama’s policies or going with a Republican approach focused on tax cuts and deregulation.

“Are we going to continue this resurgence, focus on growing the middle class, or are we going to return the policies that have failed the middle class,” Biden said.

While the race is wide open on the Republican side, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the presumptive Democratic frontrunner. She has built an elaborate campaign-in-waiting, and only a few other Democrats are exploring campaigns. By contrast, Biden’s name has faded from the mix of expected candidates.

Aides and political advisers say he is not organizing in early voting states such as New Hampshire and Iowa. No staff has been lined up to take on important roles in a potential bid.

Biden dropped by a coffeehouse in Des Moines and spoke with parents and educators about the value of early childhood education. Later, he was scheduled to participate in a discussion about expanding access to higher education.

It’s the kind of visit that might normally indicate a potential candidate is preparing to get in the race. But by this time in 2007, Sen. Biden had declared his candidacy, started a website, committed his first campaign gaffe — comments about then-Sen. Barack Obama that rubbed some the wrong way.

Biden still says it’s possible he will run again and says there’s plenty of time to decide.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Rand Paul gave his strongest sign yet that he would run for president.

Paul, a champion of the party’s libertarian wing, strongly implied in a letter to Kentucky party leaders this week that he has decided to run.

Paul has rankled the Republican leadership at times with views that go against the party mainstream. He drew scrutiny earlier this month by saying in a radio interview that most vaccines should be voluntary, and later said he thinks vaccinations are safe and should be administered to children.

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Lederman reported from Washington.

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