Vice President Joe Biden himself leaked the story of his son's dying wish that his father run for the presidency, Politico reports.
Sources said that the story of Beau Biden's urging of his dad toward the White House could have been a skillful political maneuver meant to garner early support for Biden’s possible presidential run.
Columnist Maureen Dowd began the piece with a lengthy denunciation of Hillary Clinton’s shady email controversy and the "tensions in her campaign." The story then transitioned to an intimate profile of Biden, who is portrayed as considering "jumping in" to the race, motivated by his son’s battle with cancer.
The article inspired dozens more just like it, drawing donors and public attention to the potential Biden campaign.
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
Before that moment and since, Biden has told the Beau story to others. Sometimes details change — the setting, the exact words. The version he gave Dowd delivered the strongest punch to the gut, making the clearest swipe at Clinton by enshrining the idea of a campaign against her in the words of a son so beloved nationally that his advice is now beyond politics. This campaign wouldn’t be about her or her email controversy, the story suggests, but connected to righteousness on some higher plane.
Biden has portrayed his decision about a 2016 run as purely emotional, a question of whether he and has family have the strength. That’s a big part of it. But it’s not all of it.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers, and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in, and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
"Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is," said one person who’s spoken to Biden about the prospect of running recently. "The head is further down the road than the heart is."
Biden has yet to announce his run, although reports suggest that the potential Biden campaign is hiring campaign staffers and garnering the support of ex-Clinton donors. Sources also say his wife Jill has also given him the go ahead to run.
The Politico account confirms Bill Kristol’s early speculation in The Weekly Standard that Biden may have leaked the story himself.
On the day that Dowd’s story was published, Kristol wrote, "I'm simply pointing out that when you think about who could be the source of Dowd's extraordinary account—you'd have to be crazy to think Joe Biden isn't awfully serious about running for president."