CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — First, Iowa. Then, South Carolina. Now, New Hampshire.
Vice President Joe Biden may have completed his 2016 early voting state trifecta on Wednesday, but there’s still little evidence he’s doing anything else to prepare for a White House bid.
“I think there’s some that are wondering if he has any intention, and he really hasn’t said anything about running,” said Steve Shurtleff, the minority leader of the New Hampshire House and a 2008 Biden supporter.
Officially in town to receive an award for public service from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, Biden used the stop to tout President Barack Obama’s economic policies and the administration’s efforts help the middle class.
“Never ever, ever in the history of the journey of America, when ordinary people have been giving a fighting chance have they ever let their country down,” Biden said.
There was some talk of pure politics, too, with Biden telling the audience that no one should run for public office if they don’t know what they are fighting for.
“If you have to live a life doing things you don’t believe, if you don’t know what is so important to you that you’d rather not have the office than compromise, then you should not do it,” Biden said.
But there was little chatter, from Biden and among Democrats in the state, about his potential run for president, even though the trip followed recent visits to Iowa and South Carolina. Biden has said he’s considering a 2016 run but hasn’t taken any actions in New Hampshire to start building a team or potential campaign.
Most of New Hampshire’s prominent Democrats have already declared their support for Hillary Rodham Clinton. There is no grassroots effort here to draft Biden into the race, as there is for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“I think it would be a hard race for him if Hillary Clinton runs, in all honesty,” said Kathy Sullivan, a former party chairwoman and Clinton supporter. “When I think of the people who I naturally associated with Joe Biden, they’re already supporting Hillary Clinton.”
Biden ended his 2008 bid before the New Hampshire primary after finishing poorly in Iowa. But despite the apparent support for Clinton, some Democrats cautioned Wednesday it’s far too early to count anyone out.
State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who has known Biden for decades, said the vice president is at his best when appealing to the party’s working class, blue collar base — as he did in his speech Wednesday.
“I think people in New Hampshire are fixated with Hillary Clinton,” D’Allesandro said. “But the one thing about politics is you never know what’s going to happen, there’s always that moment when something different may take place and, you know, he’ll be around.”