Biden trump uses white house as bully pulpit

Biden, who ran failed bids in 1988 and 2008, has publicly said he’ll decide about 2020 by January, a time frame that sources close to the former vice president say mirrors his private discussions. But as he travels across the country, including to key presidential battleground states, his longtime network of loyal donors and operatives are watching and waiting for signs that he is inching toward a presidential run.

In the first week of October, Biden will make a three-day swing to California and Nevada to raise money and hold public events, including a likely stop with Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen in Nevada, a source with knowledge of the plans tells CNN. Democrats see a real pickup opportunity in Rosen’s race against incumbent GOP Sen.

Dean Heller.

Headlining the dinner for the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights group on Saturday gave Biden, the first vice president to back same-sex marriage, a chance to stay connected to a key portion of the Democratic base. As the former vice president started his speech, a few people in the crowd yelled "Run Joe!" He responded, "Thank you."

Biden’s brain trust includes longtime strategist Mike Donilon; former chief of staff and the managing director of the Penn Biden Center Steve Ricchetti; former Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware; executive director of the American Possibilities PAC Greg Schultz; and former communications director Kate Bedingfield. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who managed each of his campaigns, remains a trusted confidante.

To date, Biden has publicly endorsed more than 75 Democratic candidates for Senate, House, governor and other state-level races. Those earning endorsements range from Obama administration alumni — like Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District; Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District; and Elissa Slotkin in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District — to longtime friends like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom Biden praised in a TV ad that blanketed the New York media market ahead of this week’s primary.

But there are two high-profile states Biden won’t set foot in before Nov. 6 — Iowa, where he endorsed state Rep. Abby Finkenauer in the state’s 1st Congressional District, and New Hampshire. His team says any visits to the early presidential caucus and primary states run the risk of shifting attention from the candidates to his presidential ambitions.

Biden and Obama have maintained a close relationship since leaving office. They speak from time to time, but the contact is not as frequent as their daily check-ins and weekly lunches at the White House, of which Biden so often boasted. In July, they got the gang back together for lunch at a Georgetown bakery that helps veterans and military families.

"I think Vice President Biden is one of those candidates who actually can go to any place in America and be well received, whereas others may be less well received," said Robert Wolf, a Democratic donor and friend of Obama and Biden. "He sits in a great seat — but getting through a Democratic primary I have a feeling will not be easy for anyone."

"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,’ " Biden said in March referring to Trump‘s "Access Hollywood" tape. "They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said no. I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’ " Biden‘s comments were similar to ones he had made in 2016.

"I shouldn’t have said what I said. I shouldn’t have brought it up again because I don’t want to get down in the mosh pit with this guy," he told "Pod Save America." "The idea that I would actually physically get in a contest with a President of the United States or anybody else now is not what I said, and it is not what this was about, but I should have just left it alone."

One Biden adviser said they expect his criticism of the President this fall to be more implicit than explicit. Biden has already previewed some of that messaging as he’s talked about respect, dignity and American values, and he’s frequently lambasted the "phony populism" and "naked nationalism" he thinks the President and the Republican Party promote.