A series of scheduled public appearances and an appeal from leading Democratic fundraisers appear to be pushing Vice President Joe Biden closer to a run for the White House.
The vice president will be at several high-profile events over the next week — including many activities associated with Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. — and top Democratic Party fundraisers began circulating a letter Friday to encourage Biden to enter the campaign.
These steps come after Josh Alcorn, a senior adviser and fundraiser for the Draft Biden super PAC, said aboard an Amtrak train on Wednesday that "I am 100 percent sure Joe is in," National Review reports.
Alcorn later did not deny the conversation.
For his part, Biden, 72, continues to play down a possible run for the nomination, especially amid Hillary Clinton's plunging poll numbers and the strong popularity of challenger Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
He told comedian Stephen Colbert
last week that "I'd be lying if I said that I knew I was there" about a possible White House run. "Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent of who they are."
Biden's eldest son, Beau, died in May of brain cancer.
But on Tuesday, the vice president slammed
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, saying that his campaign "will not prevail" and accusing him of pushing a "sick message" to voters about illegal immigrants.
He accused the billionaire developer of "appealing to the baser side of human nature."
Perhaps Biden's most visible exposure will come be during Pope Francis' first visit to the United States.
When Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday, Biden, who is Catholic, will be there to greet him — along with his wife, Jill, and President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
He will be at the White House on Wednesday at an arrival ceremony for the Pontiff on the South Lawn and will attend Mass with the Pope at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Biden also will attend the Pontiff's speech to Congress on Thursday before leading a farewell ceremony for Pope Francis in Philadelphia the following Sunday. That comes after an outdoor Mass that is expected to draw more than a million people to the City of Brotherly Love.
"I admire Pope Francis deeply and I'm excited about his upcoming visit," Biden said in a statement on Thursday. "Pope Francis has become a moral rudder for the world on some of the most important issues of our time, from inequality to climate change."
"I look forward to seeing him again soon."
On Saturday, Biden and Clinton will both be reaching out to the Democratic Party's core base, African Americans, during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual convention weekend at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C.
Biden will attend the foundation's prayer breakfast, while Clinton will be at the Phoenix Awards Dinner that evening.
Neither will speak, however. President Obama will keynote the dinner, as he has done every year since taking office, except for 2012, when Michelle Obama spoke during her husband's campaign.
But Clinton will attend an afternoon fundraiser hosted by DuSable Capital Management founder Frank White and Sylvia Davis, an intellectual property attorney.
Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who has said he would support Biden's campaign if he decided to run, is another host of the event.
Kirk has said that he was raising money for Clinton now because she's the only candidate in the race whom he would support.
"I admire them both greatly," he said. "But if anyone has earned the right to take his time to make a decision, it's him."
Nearly 50 top Democratic Party supporters, though, aren't giving Biden time to make a decision.
they began circulating on Friday said that a campaign by the vice president was necessary to "finish the job" started under the Obama-Biden administration.
"America needs a leader who is respected both home and abroad, and who understands the real challenges facing American families," the letter says. "In our opinion, the next president must be Joe Biden."
"If he announces he's running, we're all in. It's a campaign we know he will win."
The signers are donors, Democratic activists and friends of Biden who have yet to throw their full support behind Clinton.
Their call is the most provocative yet for Biden to take her on and suggests a broad network backing the vice president is beginning to take shape.
Best-selling political author Ed Klein told Newsmax TV
Friday that all this activity points to an "under-the-radar" campaign by Biden that is fully endorsed by Obama.
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"The person who wants to be 100 percent sure that Biden is going in to the campaign is Barack Obama," he told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth. "Think about this: the vice president of the United States does not get on Air Force Two, his plane, without the prior approval of the White House."
"He doesn't appear on television shows without the approval of the White House. He doesn't give speeches without the approval of the White House. He can't do anything without the approval of Barack Obama."
"Clearly, over the past several weeks, the White House has been encouraging him to launch this under-the-radar campaign that he's already launched, so you can see that we have the White House supporting Biden against Hillary."
"We're going to find Biden coming into the campaign with Obama's support," Klein said.
"Nobody knows the answer to that question," Klein told Hayworth. "There's a big debate going on inside the Biden inner circle. Part of the debate includes those people that are in favor of him getting in sooner than later."
"There's another faction that says: 'Why don't you wait until after she's been roughed up in Iowa and New Hampshire by Bernie Sanders, looks like a loser, and the elite of the Democratic Party — the leaders, the super delegates, the fundraisers — will all come to you and beg you to come in."
"'You'll be drafted,'" Klein added. "'That's the moment to come in, after New Hampshire.'"
Material from Bloomberg News and Reuters was used in this report.
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