NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Stoking speculation about his presidential ambitions, Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday promoted the White House's job creation efforts while visiting the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire.
Biden joined Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at Nashua's New Hampshire Works Center during an afternoon swing, which was Biden's first appearance in the state since the last presidential contest. While Democrats buzzed about Biden's future, the vice president downplayed his interest in the presidency when asked.
"I'm here about jobs, not mine," Biden said when asked about his presidential ambitions while touring a Manchester business.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is considered the overwhelming favorite to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination should she run, but Biden has not ruled out a presidential bid of his own. He has run for the White House twice before.
New Hampshire is scheduled to host the nation's first presidential primary in less than two years, and prospective candidates in both parties have already begun to travel to the northern New England state to court voters and key activists. Democrats note that Biden has strong relationships across the state, but several former supporters have already begun to get behind Clinton.
"Joe Biden has got more relationships in New Hampshire than just about any candidate who has run for office next to the Clintons," said New Hampshire-based Democratic operative Jim Demers. "He's got a lot of friendships. But a lot of those people have started working with the Ready For Hillary campaign."
Biden offered an optimistic vision for America's economy after touring the New Hampshire Works Center, a career center that connects unemployed workers with career counseling, computer access and training at local businesses.
He praised Gov. Maggie Hassan's leadership: "The reason we're here, notwithstanding what others may think, is a simple proposition: you run the best outfit in the country," he told the small crowd gathered inside the Nashua center, the governor at his side.
"America today is better positioned to lead the world economically in this century than any other country," Biden continued.
Before leaving the state, Biden was to raise money for three Democratic candidates at a private event. His office confirmed he would participate in photo lines benefiting Hassan, and New Hampshire Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster. A photo line is where donors can get pictures snapped with politicians.
All three candidates, in addition to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, face re-election this year in a difficult climate for Democrats. Shea-Porter, Kuster and Shaheen spent the day in Washington, where Congress is in session.
The Republican National Committee suggested that the Democrats were trying to distance themselves from the White House, while national Democrats said they were simply doing their jobs. There were hearings and votes scheduled in the House and Senate on Tuesday.
"Vice President Biden may be looking to get face time with first-in-the-nation voters, but his Oval Office aspirations are complicated by his role championing President Obama's unpopular tax and spend agenda," said RNC spokesman Michael Short. "So it's no wonder Jeanne Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, and Ann Kuster are keeping their distance today."