White House: Biden Able to Juggle Campaign, VP Duties

White House: Biden Able to Juggle Campaign, VP Duties
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If Vice President Joe Biden seeks the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama, the president is confident Biden can juggle his day job plus a national campaign.

“Vice President Biden is certainly somebody who has demonstrated throughout his career a willingness to work overtime, and that likely would be something that would be required” if he decides to enter the race, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

“I wouldn't speculate at this point about how he would do that or if any changes would be necessary” inside the White House, Earnest told RCP.

Biden, who ran for the White House and lost twice, continues to mull his options and has not announced a decision. He will not take part in the first Democratic candidate debate Oct. 13 in Nevada.

If he decides to jump in, he would face deadlines this fall to get on ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire to compete against five candidates who have been campaigning and raising money for months. Leading the race, according to polls, are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Recent polls indicate the prospect of a Biden run pulls support away from Clinton more than Sanders. 

Biden and Clinton last competed in 2008’s Democratic primary. Following Obama’s victory, they served together for four years in what became known as the president’s “team of rivals.”

“Ultimately, the timeline for making the decision is something that Vice President Biden will decide. And given his storied career and given the influence that he has in the Democratic Party, he certainly is entitled to all the time that he believes is necessary to make that decision,” Earnest said.

Campaigning as a sitting vice president carries distinct advantages, but also liabilities. For example, Biden would be perceived by many voters as a qualified and experienced heir to continue Obama’s unfinished agenda, but he would also be linked to every Obama policy decision since 2009, including the unpopular judgment calls, including those with which Biden may have privately differed. 

If he embarks on a national campaign, Biden would mix official duties assigned to a vice president – and in his case, Obama has relied on his No. 2 for everything from outreach to workers and employers, to alliances with world leaders in international hot spots – plus political barnstorming in early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Biden has carved out an influential public persona during the Obama presidency, but has also been faulted for being an enthusiastic, if undisciplined, public speaker from time to time.

Sitting vice presidents are required to campaign with the accessories and security required of the office, all of which adds expense and election law complexities to a national campaign operation, not to mention logistical formalities that can impact voters’ perceptions. 

In addition, many Obama enthusiasts are toiling as members of Clinton’s campaign, and Obama supporters and donors are woven into a super PAC backing the former New York senator. The president has long given every indication his endorsement would go to Clinton, and his spokesman said Obama would vote in the Illinois primary in March.

To compete against Clinton, who has raised more than $75 million for her campaign to date, Biden would need to create a competing grassroots campaign operation and devote himself to the cutthroat money chase.

Meanwhile, Obama is raking in contributions for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The president will travel Friday and Saturday to Washington state and California for such fundraising events.

Asked Friday if it is too late for Biden to seek the presidency, Obama expressed nothing but affection and admiration for his friend, adviser and running mate. 

“I love Joe Biden, and he's got his own decisions to make, and I'll leave it at that,” the president said at a news conference. “And in the meantime, he's doing a great job as vice president, and has been really helpful on a whole bunch of issues.”

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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