(Politico) — For the past couple of years, Vice President Joe Biden has quietly assembled an A-team of advisers who would, without doubt, be considered the nucleus of a presidential campaign — if only he wouldn’t be 73 in 2016.
Biden’s age would snuff the last embers of a presidential ambition that led him to a pair of crushing defeats in 1988 and 2008, or so many in Barack Obama’s camp thought when they first tapped him. But the old fire crackles yet. And Biden, spurred in part by those rumors about being replaced on the ticket by Hillary Clinton (who turns 69 in ’16), is campaigning with a young man’s tenacity in 2012 — with an eye toward keeping all of his options open.
Biden has gone on a recent staffing spree — culminating with the hire of Clinton-era operative Steve Ricchetti — that has many Democrats, and even some on Obama’s own team, wondering if the preternaturally spry and congenitally upbeat vice president just might confound conventional wisdom.
Former Sen. Ted Kaufman, a Biden friend, staffer and adviser since the early 1970s, said it’s “premature” to say Biden is laying the groundwork for a 2016 run but has no doubt that his golf-addicted buddy is physically capable of it.
“If I were him, I’d be thinking about running,” one Obama staffer said. “It would be stupid not to.”
A person close to Obama added: “I think 2016 is in the back of his mind, and his staff is doing its due diligence — but he’ll have nothing if we don’t win in 2012.”