Biden travels to key states, mulling U.S. presidential run

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Joe Biden 2016: Will He Or Won't He Run?


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's journey to a decision on whether to run for president is taking him this week to California, Michigan, and Ohio - critical states for fundraising and electoral recognition if he decides to jump into the race.

The locations are not a coincidence, even though the events he is attending are officially sanctioned by the White House.

They suggest the vice president is keeping up a campaign-in-waiting as he deliberates whether to take on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose frontrunner status for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination has been tarnished by her handling of an email controversy.

Biden is giving mixed signals, in public and in private.

See photos of Biden as he mulls over a presidential run:

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Joe Biden as he mulls over a presidential run
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Biden travels to key states, mulling U.S. presidential run
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a White House Champions of Change Law Enforcement and Youth meeting, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. CNN said Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, it will allow Biden to participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debate even if he decides that day to be a candidate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Solar Power International Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Taking aim at his potential political opponents, Biden railed against Republicans who "deny climate change" and want to shut down the federal government over funding for Planned Parenthood, and pleaded with them to "just get out of the way." (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Stephen talks with Vice President Joe Biden, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept 10, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a labor rally in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets some of the crowd as he walks in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, a crowd gathers, many wearing union shirts, in front of Vice President Joe Biden as he speaks before joining in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. Hearing chants of "run Joe, run," Biden marched in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade on Monday as speculation swirled about a potential late entry into the Democratic presidential campaign. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Vice President Joe Biden puts on a United Steelworkers hat before he spoke to a crowd before he joined in the annual Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
In this Sept. 4, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, right, stands in the Oval Office of the White House during a meeting between President Barack Obama and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Washington. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Vice President Joe Biden discusses the Iran nuclear deal with Jewish community leaders at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Fla. on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Biden sought to allay concerns of South Florida Jewish leaders who fear Iran won too many concessions in the agreement, which seeks to curb the country's nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
FILE - In this July 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Advanced Manufacturing Center at Community College of Denver. Although Biden is considering whether to enter the presidential race, he skipped this week’s Democratic National Committee summer meeting. Doing so created an opening for front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to consolidate her party’s support. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
FILE - In this May 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks to the media during a meeting between President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Although Biden has yet to make a decision on a run for the presidency, his advisers say the discussions taking form in the last several weeks are serious enough that the vice president and his associates have started gaming out mechanics like fundraising, ballot deadlines and an early primary state strategy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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Last week he gave an emotional interview in New York to Stephen Colbert on CBS's "Late Show," in which he suggested he was not ready to give the required 110 percent to a campaign while continuing to grieve for his son Beau, who died recently.

On the same trip, however, he met with a top fundraiser who has pledged support to Clinton.

"I don't think he knows what he's going to do. I think he's struggling with it," said a close friend of Biden's, who met with him a couple of times in the past week, on the condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, Biden came to California, a state rich with Democratic donors, to tout solar energy and represent the administration at a conference with China on climate change. Global warming is a top issue for environmentalists, who made up an important part of President Barack Obama's political base.

Sounding a bit like a candidate, Biden referred to the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday and predicted some would deny climate change.

"They'd probably deny gravity as well," he said in Anaheim.

In Los Angeles he met a labor leader, in a nod to an important Democratic constituency. He joked later that he could not highlight his friendship with someone from Iowa because of the political connotations of that early-voting state.

His comments appear to be part of a trend.

On Tuesday night he discarded prepared remarks at an event with Latinos at his residence in favor of a diatribe against Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner whose comments on immigration have upset Hispanics, another group whose support is critical to Democrats.

Biden is not only watching Republicans.

The former U.S. senator, who has twice competed unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination, is eyeing Clinton's rocky performance and weighing his options. He would join former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the race.

Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, is polling especially well in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, capitalizing on Clinton's weakness.

"(Biden) wants there to be a Democratic president. He's worried about where she's at," Biden's friend said.

Biden's official events and travel are sending signals. On Thursday he goes to Michigan and Ohio, two political swing states that historically help decide the outcome of most presidential elections.

He has official events in Detroit, where he will talk about transportation, and in Columbus, where he will rail against sexual assault.

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, "Tales from the Trail" (here).

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