Paul Steinhauser: Vice President Biden trip to NH sparks 2016 talk
CONCORD - After making recent stops in Iowa and South Carolina, Vice President Joe Biden's headed to New Hampshire next week.
The White House announced Thursday that Biden will travel to the Granite State on Wednesday.
On his itinerary, an address on the administration's economic policies in Concord at the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy. The vice president will also take part in a roundtable discussion at Manchester Community College that the White House says "will focus on the importance of helping more Americans go to college and the critical role that partnerships between community colleges and employers can play in helping Americans obtain the skills they need to succeed in the workforce."
Biden, who made bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008, has not ruled out running again in 2016. But the vice president has not taken any concrete steps towards launching a campaign.
Regardless, the trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state will raise eyebrows, especially as it follows a visit by Biden Wednesday to South Carolina, which holds the first southern contest in the presidential primary and caucus calendar. Biden joined Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx at two infrastructure events in the Palmetto State.
Last week the vice president spoke in Iowa. The caucuses in the Hawkeye State kick off the race for the White House.
If Biden did launch a presidential campaign, he'd be considered a longshot against all-but-certain White House contender Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, according to every national and early state poll.
"Polls show Hillary Clinton at above 60%, I don't think any candidate has polled at that level before which make this race very difficult for any other Democrat to win. Possible but not very probable," said a leading Democratic strategist who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
Most of the higher ups in the New Hampshire Democratic political structure are close to the Clinton camp, which would make any Biden run even tougher in the Granite State.
The New Hampshire Republican Party was quick to put out a statement regarding the Biden visit.
"The New Hampshire Republican State Committee welcomes all potential presidential candidates - including Vice President Joe Biden - to our state to meet with voters and compete in our First in the Nation Primary," said chair Jennifer Horn.
"Vice President Biden shouldn't be discouraged by the fact that New Hampshire Democrat Party leadership is clearly in the tank for Hillary Clinton. Granite Staters are smart enough to vet each candidate and make up their own minds without taking orders from political insiders. We hope that the vice president, and every other potential Democrat presidential candidate, visits our state frequently to make their case to voters," Horn added.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party didn't take the bait.
"Vice President Biden has been fighting for middle class economics throughout his decades of distinguished public service, and it is always an honor to have the Vice President visit New Hampshire," said chair Ray Buckley, in a statement.
Longtime Granite State Democratic strategist Jim Demers told NH1 that Biden's trip appears to be less about 2016 and more about the current White House.
"It appears this visit is an official trip relating to the Administration's economic policies. Heck, this is New Hampshire so any visit to this state by any politician is likely to be interpreted as signaling presidential interests but I don't think anyone should read too much into this one. I do think Joe Biden is a good guy and a good message deliverer of The White House's policies so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say next week," Demers added.