A New Character Joins a Rapidly Expanding Storyline

NYT FDMaggie Haberman 8/24/2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.13.52 PMGood Monday morning, as President Obama’s vacation comes to an end and as Donald J. Trump continues to drive the discussion on the trail and on theSunday talk shows. But, as the August lull winds down, another political intrigue, filled with whispers, speculation and a seemingly significant private meeting, deepens.

In any month other than August in the Summer of Trump, the fact that a sitting vice president asked a major progressive avatar to meet with him before a decision about a presidential campaign would have been a news bomb.

The private meeting on Saturday between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts may have gotten less attention than it might have otherwise, but it was the clearest signal yet of Mr. Biden’s seriousness in thinking about entering the race. The two spoke for well over an hour about a range of policy issues and the presidential campaign.

They met at his residence at the Naval Observatory, which is just a short distance from the Washington home of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the poll leader in the Democratic nominating contest, who is facing the roughest patch of her candidacy amid questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Mr. Biden’s advisers are not in harmony about whether he has a viable path. Some of his aides have strenuously sought to play down his outreach as he considers what to do.

But Ms. Warren has declined to endorse Mrs. Clinton so far, and the two are far from political allies or friends. Ms. Warren’s storm-the-gates populist rhetorical style is not Mrs. Clinton’s, and some progressives still hope that Ms. Warren will change her mind and run herself.

If Mr. Biden does decide to run, the meeting will be remembered as a turning point. If he does not, it will be seen by some as a hostile act toward Mrs. Clinton as she hits choppy waters.