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Biden casts his shadow on Clinton’s presidential run.

MINNEAPOLIS—As Vice President Joe Biden weighs a presidential bid, he must confront a number of fundamental questions. For Democrats across the country, notably including Hillary Clinton, suspense is growing while Joe Biden decides whether to enter his party’s presidential primary.

Amid the controversy over her email system and speculation over Vice President Biden entering the race, Hillary Clinton is facing an intangible — but, analysts say, very real — political crisis: the enthusiasm gap.Hillary Clinton took the stage before the assembled audience and delivered a stark critique of the Republican party and – perhaps more importantly – refused to be drawn into party infighting, part of a new strategy to portray her as a president in waiting. “The party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump,” she said in an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in Minneapolis. During a recent conference call with Democratic National Committee members, the vice president explained that he and his family, stricken by the death of his son Beau, are trying to determine “whether there is the emotional fuel at this time to run . . .

Bernie Sanders is continuing to gain on Hillary Clinton in Iowa, and is now within 7 points of the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race, according to a newly released poll. In his place, backers greeted a curious few in a hotel suite 20 floors above the official gathering, handing out chocolate bars wrapped with a stylized photo of Biden behind the wheel of a convertible and an “I’m Ridin’ with Biden” label.

I have to be able to commit to you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul.” Surely Biden will need great resilience to embark on a grueling primary schedule in the wake of personal tragedy. Clinton remains the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, while sanders is the pick for 30 percent, according to the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released Saturday. “It looks like what people call the era of inevitability is over,” said Pollster J.

And Democrats, who have enjoyed even fewer alternatives to their frontrunner, have not handed the keys to Hillary Clinton, despite her commanding status as the party’s frontrunner. She did not mention any of her competitors for the Democrat nomination or respond to their criticism of the way the party was conducting the race, all part of an emerging effort to put Hillary Rodham Clinton above the fray and position her as the candidate best placed to win back the White House. He will also need money, organization, consultants, endorsements and all the other elements of a national campaign that would be difficult to assemble only months before primaries and caucuses begin. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “[Clinton] has lost a third of the support that she had in May, so anytime you lose that much that quickly it’s a wake-up call.” This is the first time the former secretary of state has seen her support fall under 50 percent among Democrats. In fact, many Democrats – elites and grass-roots alike – have only embraced Clinton with the same kind of sighing passivity familiar to Republicans who have resigned themselves over the past few election cycles to whomever is “next in line” for the nomination.

Hours earlier, her campaign released a string of memos setting out her strength in four critical states and briefing journalists that she would have the contest wrapped up in March, months before the summer’s convention. Nobody should run for elected office at any level, the late New York governor often said, without an argument that compels voters to rally behind his or her candidacy. But there are now several powerful signs that Clinton’s grip on inevitability has weakened – so much so that the end of the Clinton era is in sight.

It marks a major change in strategy: after long playing down what many saw as Mrs Clinton’s weaknesses – her previous life as first lady, her clear frontrunner status and support among party grandees – Team Hillary plans to steamroller her opponents before they can get any more of a toehold on the rce. Clinton’s years-long flirtation with a second White House campaign — time her allies used to lock up support of much of the Democratic Party’s leadership — and her undeniable political celebrity have upended the traditional script. As a two-term vice president, former senator and congressman, Biden has ample qualifications, and his political orientation is well within the American mainstream. Biden captured 14 percent of the vote, way ahead of candidates Martin O’Malley with 3 percent, Jim Webb at 2 percent, and Lincoln Chafee at 1 percent.

Rather than inheriting his party’s machine, a Biden campaign would have to find a way to take it back. “Secretary Clinton’s folks have been talking to these people for a very, very long time,” said Vermont Sen. Sanders’ poll numbers are also being buoyed by a group of voters similar to the ones attracted to President Obama in 2008: young people, liberals and first-time caucus-goers.

On Thursday at Case Western Reserve University in the battleground state of Ohio, Clinton spoke to a crowd of an estimated 2,800 people in an outdoor “commit to vote” rally, the first for her campaign outside the key primary/caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Gone it seems are the days when Mrs Clinton drove across the US in a minivan nicknamed Scooby or advisers boasted of how little money was being spent and staff were sleeping on supporters’ sofas. Biden would find himself behind in the states that hold the first contests and carry outsize influence in the nomination fight. “There is a path, but it is narrow and requires a lot to break Biden’s way,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior political adviser to President Barack Obama. Clearly there are strong arguments weighing against his candidacy, or else Biden — who has thought of himself as presidential material since he first ran for the job in 1988 — would have declared many months ago. His candor, long history of fighting for Democratic causes and personal struggles — a widower at a young age now grieving over the recent death of son Beau — make him an admired figure in the party. “He’s one of us.

The latest average of opinion polls calculated by Real Clear Politics, still shows Mrs Clinton at almost 50%, a commanding lead over Mr Sanders her nearest rival. The state’s caucuses, set for Feb. 1, reward candidates able to mobilize voters, getting them to turn out for caucus sessions that can last well into cold winter evenings. Ironically, Sanders is somewhat a victim of his own success; he has shown himself to be exciting enough to draw out would-be voters in droves – without a strong campaign and with little organizational muscle.

And this week she outdid even Mr Trump on social media when one of her tweets about women in the workplace was retweeted more than any other candidate’s, showing her depth of support. Most important is the shadow of his longtime friend and colleague Clinton, the durable frontrunner who enjoys the overwhelming support of Democrats in most national polls. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, says this is likely designed that way, “because she is very good in small venues and not so much in big ones.” For example, she chose to unveil her college affordability plan to an audience of about 600 at Exeter High School in New Hampshire on Aug. 10. Clinton’s campaign has been building a network of volunteers since she entered the race in April and now has about four dozen paid organizers and 11 offices set up. But Clinton’s numbers have suddenly fallen below 50% in some recent surveys, such as Quinnipiac’s national poll last week, when Biden’s name was included as a contender.

On Aug. 6, she jazzed up an estimated 300 supporters in a packed nightclub in Denver, and on Aug. 18, held a town meeting in a Las Vegas community center that drew an estimated 300. While Biden and Clinton have disagreed in some internal foreign policy debates, there is no way for him to exploit those differences without embarrassing President Obama. In a pair of appearances in Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles in August alone, he attracted an estimated 55,000 people. “I hardly see any liberal enthusiasm for [Clinton], and they are concerned she could even drag down the entire ticket,” charged Richard Viguerie, longtime conservative media strategist, who blames the energy lag on Clinton’s political “baggage” and her demeanor, which he claims has never been “warm and fuzzy.” Michael Cohen, a Boston Globe columnist, disagrees, calling the “enthusiasm gap” a creation of media boredom during the dog days of summer. “I don’t think it much matters what is happening in August,” he told “I think it’s hard for anyone to get excited about politics right now. So I do kind of know what Donald is going through,” she said, to howls of laughter. “And if anyone wonders if mine is real, here’s the answer: The hair is real; the colour isn’t.

All of a sudden people are saying she is in trouble and I just don’t see any evidence of that.” “She has the support,” Democratic strategist Doug Schoen told, “but she needs to get a message and to communicate a campaign strategy to mobilize and excite the Democratic base.” Does she have the tools light a fire under this base? “That’s an open question,” Schoen said. Above and beyond putting Democrats on notice that neither they nor America needed Clinton – or needed to reward her for her tenacity – Obama elevated Biden’s reputation, taking him from a third-tier perennial candidate to a trusted copilot. But even squared against this time in 2007, Clinton’s crowds don’t hold a candle to those of Obama, who was drawing huge audiences of exuberant, mostly young, supporters.

Eight years on, despite the chuckles and groans about his touchy-feely style and avuncular informality, politically speaking, he’s a man transformed. A recent Reuters survey of top Democratic donors who were undecided in February revealed that most have thrown their weight behind Clinton. “Even so,” the news agency noted, “a billionaire, or wealthy megadonor, could pour money into a superPAC, solving Biden’s fundraising weakness overnight.” And Biden’s own core of would-be benefactors is still ready to be tapped. “Major fundraisers for Joe Biden’s past campaigns have not committed to Hillary Clinton,” the Hill has reported, “leaving the vice president’s allies convinced he can win the financial support necessary to challenge her.” But as all good Democrats know, there’s more to political legitimacy than dollars and cents. Yet he runs slightly ahead of her against potential Republican nominees — apparently because independent voters believe Biden to be more honest and trustworthy than Clinton. There’s the liberal version of moral character – the magical quality often associated with the party’s more iconoclastic or ideologically pure figures, such as (latter-day) Al Gore or Biden’s fellow veteran of the 1980s – California Gov. Not that all his rallies have been ‘full Bern.’ In a recent swing through South Carolina, Sanders faced the stiffer task of appealing to black voters who typically weigh in heavy for Clinton.

Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo and the author of “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton.” Brown recently told “Meet the Press” that, if he were Biden, he’d give “very serious consideration” to a run – while warning that Clinton will “have to use her best imagination and adroitness” to overcome her stubborn and growing problems around trustworthiness. When you’re setting up a statewide organization, it’s really important to get that started.” Eight days after the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire holds the nation’s first primary. If Biden runs, he will have, at a minimum, the tacit support of the likes of Brown and Gore – party elders with a decades-long axe to grind against the Clintons and a deep-rooted distaste for national politics Clinton-style.

Viguerie told that Sanders and Trump are “change” candidates who are stealing the show because they are appealing to voters angry and frustrated with the status quo. Schoen doesn’t think the size of the crowds actually matters for Clinton’s overall success, and he has written that he believes she will still be the nominee. “But there are a lot of challenges she still has to face,” he acknowledged, and one of them is energy. Clinton in the state, gaining traction by dint of a populist message that couples red-meat attacks on the “billionaire class” with calls for higher taxes on wealthy Americans. Biden “will struggle with the African-American vote,” said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist and pollster at Winthrop University in South Carolina. “She has much stronger connections.” Mrs.

Biden might cut into her lead among black voters, “but he’s not going to flip it on its head the way Barack Obama did.” March 1 is “Super Tuesday.” With 11 states voting, it is impractical for candidates to make headway through the type of retail campaigning that plays to Mr.

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