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Biden Sends a Jolt to Would-Be Backers With Warren Meeting

Joe Biden

Aug 22, 2015 7:51 PM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting Saturday with Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn’t necessarily mean a Biden-Warren ticket for 2016, but it showed Democratic party activists and donors how seriously he’s pondering a late run for president.

The private, surprise session between the vice president and Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat once seen as Hillary Clinton’s strongest challenger for the nomination, comes at a pivotal point in the contest.

After his son Beau’s death in May from brain cancer, Biden has been shifting from not ruling out a run against Clinton to a posture in which he and backers are strategically, if mostly behind the scenes, testing his viability in early voting states and among uncommitted, major Democratic donors.

While Clinton remains the frontrunner, with support from key donors and organizers locked down, mounting concerns about how she’s handled questions about her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state have increased support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist who many in the Democratic establishment believe can’t win a general election.

Warren supporters comprise an energetic and significant element of the Democratic base. Clinton, who also understands Warren’s importance in the party, met privately with her last December.