SARASOTA, Fla. – President Obama has regularly declared that the 2012 campaign will be his last. Not so for his vice president, apparently.
Maybe it was the aging groupies who hugged him adoringly, praising him for his hard-hitting campaign speech just before. Maybe it was the humming toy train that ran along the wall of a local eatery. Or maybe it was just Joe Biden being Joe Biden — “I’m being a good Biden today,” he had said earlier.
Whatever the reason, the vice president was feeling confident enough as he worked the lunchtime crowd at Station 400 that he signaled he was looking beyond 2012, perhaps to a third presidential run in 2016.
A woman who encountered Biden when he made an unscheduled stop for coffee told him she couldn’t wait to share a photo they had taken together with her “Republican brother.” The vice president had a better idea: Why not call him up on the phone right now so he could say hello.
She did just that, and quickly a courtesy call became a substantive discussion of healthcare policy, which the brother appeared to use as argument No. 1 for not reelecting the Democratic ticket.
Biden seemed eager to get into the specifics at first, but the combination of aides trying to keep him on schedule and other patrons angling for a quick hello prompted him to wrap things up quickly.
“Look, I’m not trying to talk you into voting for me, I just wanted to say hi to you,” Biden told the man. “And after it’s all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you’ll vote for me in 2016.”
Biden, 69, has not indicated what his future holds, win or lose on Nov. 6. But he has intentionally not ruled out running once again for the Democratic nomination for president, as he did in 1988 and in 2008.