WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden wants to make one thing clear: Don't count me out in 2016.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is widely viewed as the Democratic front-runner to succeed President Barack Obama but the vice president is not foreclosing any options on whether he may seek the White House for a third time.
"There may be reasons I don't run, but there's no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run," Biden said in an interview broadcast Friday on CNN's "New Day." The vice president said he would make a decision by summer 2015.
Biden's remarks came after several former advisers to Obama backed efforts to support Clinton if she seeks the presidency again. Obama's 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, recently became co-chair of Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that intends to bolster a potential Clinton campaign. Two former senior Obama campaign aides are advising Ready for Hillary, another outside group promoting a grassroots campaign for the ex-secretary of state.
Biden's supporters have downplayed suggestions that the early efforts create an impression that Clinton is the favored heir to Obama's White House. Clinton, the former New York senator and first lady, says she has not yet decided if she will seek the White House again and plans to make a decision later this year.
"He feels very good about his relationship with the president," said Ted Kaufman, a former Biden chief of staff who succeeded the vice president in the Senate.
Biden has been Obama's top deputy on a number of policy fronts, leading the president's gun control campaign last year, which failed to clear Congress. In last month's State of the Union address, Obama called on Biden to lead a task force to review federal job training programs as the administration tackles income inequality.
The vice president expects to campaign for fellow Democrats during the 2014 midterm elections. Biden will headline a Florida fundraiser next week for Alex Sink, who is in a tight congressional race to succeed the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla.
The vice president will travel to Minnesota on Feb. 19 for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at a Minneapolis restaurant owned by the sons of Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
In the interview, Biden said his decision will be based on whether he thinks he's the best qualified person to focus "on the two things I've spent my whole life on, giving ordinary people a fighting chance to make it, and a sound foreign policy that's based on rational interests of the United States."
"I think the future for this country, I know people think I'm too optimistic, but it is incredible," Biden said. "There's so much just within our grasp. Doesn't mean I'm the only guy that can do it, but if no one else, I think, can, and I think I can, then I'd run. If I don't, I won't."