Rumors persist that Sen. Joe Biden continues to seriously mull a presidential run. "Maybe he's just being coy," says one of his staffers, who says many of his most loyal aides remain as much in the dark as anyone else. "It's not clear why he'd be running beyond a desire to simply run."
It certainly isn't apparent what niche remains to be filled in the Democratic race for the nomination. Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, as well as Rep. Dick Gephardt, present the experienced, serious side of the party, while Sen. John Edwards is the shiny, JFK knockoff without the brains of cash behind him. Al Sharpton fills the role formerly played by Jesse Jackson and Howie Dean fills the far-left hole. Should Sen. Bob Graham run, he along with Lieberman and to a lesser degree Kerry would have the foreign policy side pretty much covered.
Yet Biden, without a clear fundraising base, remains interested, apparently, at giving it a go. Interested enough to meet at least twice privately with former President Bill Clinton, who despite telling each of the potential presidential campaigners their meetings will be confidential, leaks word of the meetings to the press after the fact to prove he's a kingmaker in the Democratic Party.
"If Biden can't come up with a rationale for his run with his supporters or even with himself, he won't be able to do it with the voters," says a DNC policy staffer. "In fact, he's probably too late to the game."
Not to mention that he has spoken highly of his potential competition. Over the past year he's tossed supportive language Lieberman's way, as well as Kerry's.
Biden's staff, for their part, toss up his eyeing of another presidential run as evidence that their boss is growing restless, particularly now that he is without a committee chairmanship. Another alternative for Biden would be retirement, but for Republicans that's just wishful thinking.