By CAROL E. LEE and REID J. EPSTEIN
(DRUDGE) Vice President Joe Biden, who has long been considering a presidential bid, is increasingly leaning toward entering the race if it is still possible he can knit together a competitive campaign at this late date, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Biden still could opt to sit out the 2016 race, and he is weighing multiple political, financial and family considerations before making a final decision. But conversations about the possibility were a prominent feature of an August stay in South Carolina and his home in Delaware last week, these people said. A surprise weekend trip to Washington to meet with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a darling of the party’s liberal wing, represented a pivot from potential to likely candidate, one Biden supporter said.
“The vice president has not made a decision about his political future,” Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said. “Anyone speculating that he has made a decision is wrong.”
Mr. Biden would enter as a clear underdog. Polling shows Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton running far ahead of the vice president, who would be building a campaign team largely from scratch. Mrs. Clinton, who declared her candidacy four months ago, has a robust campaign operation and an outside super PAC raising money on her behalf.
Still, the vice president’s deliberations illustrate how, with just six months before the first presidential nominating contests, both major parties’ campaigns are in a state of flux. Democrats are increasingly insecure about Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, given her dipping approval ratings and continuing questions about her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Republicans, meanwhile, are struggling to find the proper tone in reacting to Donald Trump, whose no-holds-barred campaign style is dominating coverage of the GOP contest and nudging top contenders into uncomfortable sound bites.
Mr. Biden’s meeting with Ms. Warren fueled speculation that he is sounding out support he might receive among those at the party’s progressive base should he seek to challenge Mrs. Clinton. James Smith, a Democratic state representative from South Carolina, said a Biden alliance with Ms. Warren “would be a strong message to primary voters.”
—Peter Nicholas and Patrick O’Connor contributed to this article.
Write to Carol E. Lee at email@example.com and Reid J. Epstein at Reid.Epstein@wsj.com