On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a rousing address that read more like a stump speech than his normal address, and despite media attention, it's yet to be determined whether this speech is proof that Biden is running for president. The context in which Biden delivered the address is key — in the midst of a media frenzy regarding whether or nor he will run for president, Biden has embarked on a high profile speaking tour of the country. It's the first major speaking tour since the vice president's son Beau passed away in May, and though Biden is unlikely to comment on a possible run, the tour will likely be used to gauge responses, both from the media and from voters.
Wednesday's speech was the first, as Biden addressed 100 students and community members at Miami Dade College in South Florida. The speech focused on higher education and was a continuation of the Obama administration's attempt to provide free community college to eligible students. But, as the multiple reporters in attendance noticed, the event felt more like a campaign stop.
In his speech, Biden praised immigrants, reiterated his desire to restore the middle class, and discussed the various ways the government could find funding for the community college plan. It was broad, and at times generalized, and left many wondering if it was a precursor to an announcement.
Biden would have us believing it's not. He ignored press questions about the run and cracked jokes about campaign speculation. "Look at all the press you’ve attracted," he told the crowd. "Their interest in community colleges has impressed me. I hope that’s what they’re going to write about."
Biden's presence in Florida isn't particularly notable — he's visited South Florida more than 30 times since 2009, according to The New York Times. But even if Biden's speech in a renowned political fundraising spot wasn't evidence of a positive announcement, the rest of his trip may be. Over the next week, Biden will be attending fundraising dinner for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as speaking with Jewish communities across the states about the Iran deal. Each event falls under the purview of his vice presidential roles. But it's also a timely opportunity for Biden to present himself in the spotlight as knowledgeable and authoritative.
Those close to the vice president have said that if he does choose to run, he will decide in September or early October, ahead of the Oct. 13 Democratic debate. Which means that if Biden did decide to run, the media buzz generated from his speaking tour could help garner early support.
And the support is there. Even though he hasn't even announced, a Reuters/Ipsos poll has him bringing in 17 percent favorability to Clinton's 44 percent. And the same poll shows that if Clinton were to back out, 38 percent of Clinton supporters would choose Biden as a viable candidate.
The speech doesn't prove much of anything on its own, but it may be part of a larger pattern of behavior indicating Biden's decision to run. And while it doesn't definitively prove anything, it does make a run look much more likely. He may have dropped on clue during his speech, disguised as advice to older students when he said, "People who aren’t willing to risk failure never succeed." Who knows — it may have been a cryptic hint about himself.