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Democrat Biden leaning toward bid for president in ‘08

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Biden (The Spokesman-Review)
Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware said Sunday he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless he decides later this year that he has little chance of winning.

“My intention is to seek the nomination,” Biden said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I know I’m supposed to be more coy with you. I know I’m supposed to tell you, you know, that I’m not sure. But if, in fact, I think I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I’m going to seek the nomination.”

Biden said he plans to spend the year road-testing his message to see if his views are compatible with a majority of Democrats while evaluating whether he can raise the money needed to compete in a race that widely is expected to include Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, a prodigious fund-raiser.

“I’ve proceeded since last November as if I were going to run,” Biden said. “I’m quite frankly going out, seeing whether I can gather the kind of support” to be successful.

Biden is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has used that pulpit to launch increasingly caustic criticism of President Bush’s policy in Iraq. Sunday, he again accused the administration of failing to level with Americans about the situation there, claiming the insurgency is far from in its last throes, as Bush administration officials have suggested.

“I think the administration figures it’s got to paint a rosy picture in order to keep the American people in the game, and the exact opposite is happening,” Biden said. “The exact opposite.”

Biden, who opposes setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, said that without changes in U.S. policy, the United States faces failure in Iraq.

Biden said he believes national security issues will be central to the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, as they were in 2004, and said his experience in that arena gives him a possible advantage over other potential candidates.

Candidate Biden withdrew from the 1988 presidential race in 1987 amid accusations that he had plagiarized from speeches by a British Labor Party leader.

He openly talked about his interest in running for president in 2004, but in the end, he chose not to after determining that other candidates had too much of a head start on him in terms of organization and fund raising.

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