Tea Leaves Trail Biden as He Goes About His Day

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 6.48.56 AMJULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS – PETER BAKER  Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Tuesday morning. As the excitement and confetti of Pope Francis visit clears, the threat of a government shutdown loses some momentum (and NASA confirms signs of water on Mars!), the trail refills with old intrigues, especially those involving a certain vice president who has a schedule full of items to parse.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to New York City on Tuesday to meet with world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly – not a particularly unusual stop for someone who has spent much of his career steeped in international affairs. But when it comes to Mr. Biden these days, there’s no such thing as a routine day trip.

The visit comes as questions mount about Mr. Biden’s political plans, and amid a seemingly endless round of whispers and tea leaf scrutinizing not normally associated with a vice president’s daily schedule. Each day brings a new rumor: He’s about to announce he’s in! He’s poised to announce he’s out! He’s leaning yes! He’s waiting to decide! And the truth seems to be, no one whose last name isn’t Biden really knows. And maybe not even them. As some Biden advisers said, if the vice president does not know whether he will run, how should his staff?

The latest speculation was stoked by CNN’s announcement that it would allow Mr. Biden into the first Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 13 if he joins the race as late as the same day. But that does not mean he will decide by then. At one point, the vice president had said he would come to a conclusion by the end of summer, but that has come and gone. Then, aides suggested the debate was the likely deadline. Now, they suggest a decision could come as late as November. Or it could come next week. He will decide, they say, when he decides.
In the meantime, Mr. Biden is staying in the public eye. He makes a second appearance in New York City on Thursday to address the Concordia Summit, a global affairs forum, and on Saturday night he will give the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Washington. Just your normal vice-presidential speaking engagements.