On the Fence

Joe Biden Says Democratic Debaters 'Did Well' But Doesn't Rule Out Joining Them

In an appearance at the White House, the vice president manages to drop in telling reminders of his political influence and acumen.

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Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The day the after the first Democratic presidential debate, the man who wasn't there still wasn't ready to take himself out of the mix.

Making a cameo appearance Wednesday morning at a White House event, Vice President Joe Biden willingly handled one shouted question from a reporter about the debate.

“I thought they all did well,” Biden said of five Democratic hopefuls who faced off Tuesday night in Las Vegas while he hosted his high school class reunion at his official residence. 

But he ignored the reporter's second question: When will he say if he's running?

After losing his son and presumed political heir Beau Biden earlier this year to brain cancer, Joe Biden has been getting plenty of space from fellow Democrats, but there are signs of waning patience. In television interviews on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said it's time for Biden to make up his mind and let voters know.

“He's been through a tremendous tragedy. And we've been respectful of that,” Podesta told MSNBC. “But I think the time has come for a decision.”

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Floridian who heads the Democratic National Committee, also seemed to ignore the possibility of Biden joining the race. Praising the performance of all candidates in a statement following Tuesday's debate, she predicted that “one” of them “will go on to be the 45th president of the United States.” Earlier this month, participants in Bloomberg focus groups in Iowa and New Hampshire questioned the rationale for a Biden candidacy.

But if others seem ready to turn the page on his political career, Biden doesn't appear to be buying it. Upbeat and natty in a blue blazer and crisp white shirt, Biden did not look ready to be written off as he joined the White House roundtable discussion on transportation investment.

During his formal remarks to group, the 72-year-old vice president, who spent about half of his life in the U.S. Senate, addressed one of the biggest topics of Tuesday's debate: how to rein in Wall Street. 

Biden's message, however, sounded much like the rallying cry of those trying to draft him into the presidential race. “Get in the game, man. You know the tax structure’s not fair. You know the rates you’re getting aren’t warranted. Get in the game, like you used to, by the way—by the way,” Biden declared. “We can argue about the details but get in the game.”

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