Joe Biden "placed an ad in the New York Times" in August to gauge interest in a presidential run, reports Politico, citing "multiple sources." That "ad" came in the form of Maureen Dowd's Aug. 1 column about the dying wish of Beau Biden "that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values," and Dowd's source was Joe Biden himself. Dowd, a longtime Clinton critic, jump-started Biden Fever with that column, and the VP has since been running the numbers—meaning his reluctance to jump in isn't completely due to the emotions surrounding Beau's death, as he's said publicly. "Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that's what it is," a source who's reportedly spoken to Biden about a run tells Politico. "The head is further down the road than the heart is."
And there's a lot for his head to think about, Politico and CNN note, including ever-evolving poll numbers for both himself and Hillary Clinton, looming filing deadlines, the prospect of running against a potential first female president, and, yes, his emotional health. But he's definitely running the plays, even if it's been "undetailed and improvisational," as Politico puts it. "His bet is that disaffection with Hillary will allow him to peel away some of her donors and operatives," ex-Obama adviser David Axelrod described the strategy to the AP, per Politico. And, as it turns out, Biden's heart may be catching up to his head, with an anonymous potential donor telling CNN the chances of a run have gone from around "50% to more like 85%. … His heart is getting there more day by day." (Biden could still get into the CNN debate Tuesday if he wanted to.)