Vice President Joe Biden is considering a challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination amid fears that the former secretary of state cannot win key states because her popularity is declining in several recent polls.
"It’s not that we dislike Hillary, it’s that we want to win the White House," Richard Harpootlian, a lawyer and Democratic donor in Columbia, S.C., told The New York Times
for its Saturday report. "We have a better chance of doing that with somebody who is not going to have all the distractions of a Clinton campaign."
Biden, 72, who has been inspired to run by his late son Beau, said he would make a decision by the end of the summer.
Before Beau Biden died of brain cancer in May at age 46, he encouraged his father to make a third run for the White House. The vice president's younger son, Hunter, also endorsed another campaign.
"He was so close to Beau and it was so heartbreaking that, frankly, I thought initially he wouldn’t have the heart," Michael Thornton, a Boston lawyer who supports Biden, told the Times. "But I’ve had indications that maybe he does want to — and 'that’s what Beau would have wanted me to do.'"
Kendra Barkoff, a Biden spokeswoman, told the Times: "As the Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the vice president is focused on his family and immersed in his work."
A spokesman for the Clinton campaign declined to comment, and the White House also had no immediate comment, the Times reports.
But Biden's advisers have been approaching Democrats who have not yet committed to Clinton to test a run by the vice president, according to the Times.
The calls mostly have been fielded by Steve Ricchetti, who is Biden's chief of staff. Ricchetti began talking to donors and supporters months before Beau Biden died, the Times reports.
Harpootlian told the newspaper that he had met with Ricchetti before Biden's death.
"Biden is also talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in," Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported. "The 72-year-old vice president has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire."
Dowd, who has long criticized Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, cited Biden's conversations with his sons.
She added that a run by the vice president would be complicated since Biden has a good relationship with Clinton and respects Democratic Party's desire to put a woman in the White House.
"The reality is it's going to be a tough, even-Steven kind of race — and there’s that moment when a lot of party establishment would start exactly this kind of rumble: 'Is there anybody else?'" Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist, told the Times.
Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware, sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008. Recent polls show that Clinton's popularity has dropped.
A Quinnipiac University
poll released Thursday showed that 57 percent of respondents said that the former first lady was not honest and trustworthy — and 52 percent said she did not care about their needs or problems.
Biden, however had his highest favorability rating — 49 percent — in seven years. Fifty-eight percent said that he is honest and trustworthy, while 57 percent responded that he cares about them.
Clinton’s numbers remain strong, however, particularly among likely Democratic primary voters, according to the survey.
"The No. 1 thing voters want is a candidate who is honest and trustworthy, and the veep is leading in those polls," William Pierce, executive director of the Draft Biden super PAC, told the Times. The group has been working for months to build support for a possible campaign.
Republicans also slammed Clinton on Friday
after the State Department released thousands of emails during her four years as the nation's top diplomat.
Many of the documents were heavily redacted, with some being classified because the Obama administration deemed the information in them as critical to national security.
Clinton has steadily been attacked for using her private email server as secretary of state, and two inspectors general recently told Congress that some of the communications included classified information.
She is expected to testify before the special House panel investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks in a public hearing on Oct. 22.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the panel's chairman, said Friday
that the latest documents will "probably not" help the committee.
"We are in a constant battle with the State Department over the production of documents," he told Fox News. "We'll find out what happened with or without their help."
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