Joe Biden's family says yes -- will he?
(CNN)Vice President Joe Biden has personally made a series of calls this week to Democratic strategists from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, asking a final round of detailed questions about how -- not whether -- to launch a 2016 presidential campaign.
People familiar with the conversations tell CNN that Biden has been making the calls throughout the week, including on Wednesday, just as many leading Democrats argued the window to a potential candidacy was closing in the wake of Hillary Clinton's strong performance in the party's first presidential debate. He is asking these people to work for him if he runs.
The vice president has been making clear that his family is fully supportive of him jumping into the 2016 race, according to people familiar with the calls. They are guided by the belief that he has the best chance of keeping the White House in Democratic hands and he could forever regret taking a pass at another shot at the presidency.
The new round of calls this week -- from the vice president himself, not simply his top advisers -- suggest Biden is finally moving toward announcing a decision. He has been down this road before, inching close to a run but pulling back, so his next steps are far from certain.
Yet, he is still leaving the impression this week that he wants to join the race, people familiar with the calls say, and does not seem dissuaded by the argument that he could complicate the party's nominating fight or damage his own reputation.
"His family is totally on board," one top Democrat who has spoken to Biden this week told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation. "He wants to do this."
The question of whether he has waited too long comes up in the conversations, people familiar with the calls say, which could be the most important remaining consideration in his decision. It could also provide an exit strategy for him if he ultimately decides against running after doing little to quiet weeks of speculation.
The arguments in favor of running, according to people who have spoken with the Vice President and his team of advisers, include:
- He would have full access to the vaunted Obama campaign email list, since Biden is effectively a part owner since he was on the ticket in 2008 and 2012.
- A handful of influential labor unions have not yet endorsed a Democratic candidate, including international unions representing the firefighters, steelworkers, SEIU and Teamsters.
One potential point of entry into the race comes October 24 at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, when thousands of party activists will descend on Des Moines. If he decides to vigorously campaign for the Iowa caucuses in February, his supporters believe this is a moment that shouldn't be missed, given the high-profile event is attracting the rest of the party's top candidates.
Yet a Biden candidacy is also challenging. The campaign has moved quickly - even more so in recent weeks - and Biden would have to work to compete with his fellow Democrats at that Iowa dinner. It's remembered for being a break-out moment for Obama in 2007.
But Katy Perry is scheduled to perform for Clinton that night. The question is whether Biden can compete -- or catch up -- with a race that's been underway for months.