Joe Biden 'Not Saying No' to Potential Presidential Run

"This is his time to figure it out," adviser says.

ByABC News
August 1, 2015, 5:35 PM

— -- Vice President Joe Biden's political operation has entered a more active phase in recent days, with several moves being contemplated to clear the way for him to run for president should he choose to do so, two longtime Biden advisers tell ABC News.

The vice president himself has not authorized any specific moves, but nor has he objected, a signal Biden confidantes take as suggesting he's serious about potentially challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

"He's not saying no," one adviser said. "This is his time to figure it out."

Among the potential moves are efforts to restart a moribund fundraising operation, launch a new political action committee, and find a way to channel the energies of a "Draft Biden" movement that's now not being led by Biden insiders.

One adviser said the new actions would roll out over the next 30 to 45 days, roughly tracking Biden's statement that he would decide on running by the end of the summer.

On Saturday, New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Biden has been "talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in."

"The 72-year-old vice president has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire," Dowd wrote.

On May 30, Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer at the age of 46, ushering in a period of mourning for the vice president and his family.

"As the Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the Vice President is focused on his family and immersed in his work,” Kendra Barkoff a spokeswoman for Biden said in a statement when asked for a response to The Times' reporting. "In recent weeks, the Vice President has worked on the nuclear deal with Iran, traveled across the country to highlight the Administration's economic priorities, and more."

Dick Harpootlian, a former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party who has been outspoken in his wish for Biden to run, told ABC that Biden's family seems more supportive than not of a run.

Harpootlian said that while he has not had a direct conversation about running with the vice president or his formal advisers, the pace of political operations is picking up.

"This isn't some snap decision. He really is weighing how this would impact his family. How crazy is that?" he said.

The vice president and his team know they need to move fairly quickly if he's going to run against Clinton, Harpootlian said.

"My sense around the country is there's tremendous support there. He's got to gauge that. And then he's got to do a gut check," he said.

In the most recent ABC News-Washington Post poll released July 20, Clinton stood at the head of the Democratic pack with the backing of 63 percent of registered Democrats compared to 14 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and 12 percent for Biden.

However, the poll also found that less than half -- 42 percent -- of Clinton’s supporters describe themselves as "very enthusiastic." Seventy-two percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they are satisfied with their choice of candidates, potentially leaving some wiggle room for Biden.

When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed Biden on "Good Morning America" in January, he said "there's a chance" that he would challenge Clinton, but added, "I don’t think I have to make up my mind until the summer."

In the interview he said he considered the presidential contest "wide open on both sides."