Washington — Tucked away at his family home in Delaware, Vice President Joe Biden has been huddling with longtime aides and family members, evaluating what it would take to launch a viable presidential campaign against well-funded Democratic opponents with a huge head start.

Although Biden has yet to make a decision, his advisers say the vice president and his associates have started gaming out mechanics like fundraising, ballot deadlines and an early primary state strategy. Also under consideration are the personal consequences for Biden and his family, who are still mourning the death of the vice president’s son, Beau Biden, a few months ago.

Much of the deliberation has taken place this week at the Bidens’ house in a secluded, wooded suburb of Wilmington, said several Biden aides, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the meetings publicly. In recent days, longtime Biden confidantes Mike Donilon and former Sen. Ted Kaufman have spent time there, along with Biden’s surviving son, Hunter Biden, and his sister, Valerie Owens Biden.

Biden’s team has settled on a one-month window from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 in which he could potentially announce plans to run.

The vice president long ago set an end-of-summer deadline for his decision, and the last full day of summer is Sept. 22. The longer he waits, the less time he has to build a formidable campaign.

If Biden’s not in by Oct. 1, it will likely be too late, people who have spoken to Biden recently said. He’ll need at least two full months to get the petition signatures and delegates lined up by the beginning of December to qualify for the ballot in early primary states.

That’s assuming Clinton remains his biggest obstacle to the nomination. If her campaign were to collapse, Biden could feasibly enter the race much later and remain competitive. Concerns about Clinton’s falling poll numbers and controversy over her email practices has been one of the driving forces leading prominent Democrats to turn to Biden.

Biden’s aides are also eyeing the first Democratic primary debate — on Oct. 13 — as potentially a make-or-break moment. That first debate is expected to attract a huge audience among Democratic primary voters, giving Biden a powerful opportunity to establish himself as a credible alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Biden’s strong performance in the 2012 vice presidential debate was widely credited with helping get the campaign back on track after President Barack Obama’s weak showing in his first debate.

Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the top two candidates in the Democratic primary, have already amassed millions of dollars while securing support from many of the party’s top fundraisers. Biden would start with zero in the bank.


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