INDIANOLA - With most Democrats keeping an eye on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for hints about her 2016 plans, Vice President Joe Biden's appearance at Iowa's 36th annual "Tom Harkin Steak Fry," may one day be viewed as a telling sign of his presidential intentions.
The Democratic fund-raiser named for the veteran senator from Iowa is closely watched in this Midwestern state, which helps winnow out the crop of presidential contenders every four years leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the first voting event of each presidential cycle.
Addressing the crowd at the Warren County Fairgrounds, Biden mentioned 2016 in a sideways fashion, making light of the national media presence that showed up for the event.
"It's amazing when you come to speak at the Steak Fry a whole bunch of people seem to take notice. I don't know why the hell that is," Biden said.
The 70-year-old Biden has left open the possibility of a run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in order to get a chance to succeed President Barack Obama.
Many in Washington believe he will not run if Clinton runs, and she is making a regular series of public appearances that could easily be interpreted as setting the stage for a campaign Biden extolled Obama's leadership, defending his handling of the economy and the crisis over Syria's chemical weapons. And, Biden gave himself a bit of credit for being part of the team.
Obama, said Biden, reduced the national debt by $2.5 trillion "and in the process we've created 2.5 million new jobs.
But folks, there's a lot more we have to do."
Biden also tweaked Russian President Vladimir Putin for a New York Times opinion article last week in which he criticised Obama for praising "American exceptionalism."
"It's always been the story ... of the journey of this country that the American people have been ahead, and I know I've been criticised for saying this, but I'll say it again: That's what makes America exceptional," said Biden.