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Joe Biden visits Florida, where he has strong ties and support but few see path to presidency


@adamsmithtimes @PatriciaMazzei

Few national Democratic figures have more longtime friends in Florida than does Joe Biden, who returns to the Sunshine state on Wednesday amid growing chatter that he could enter and upend the presidential race.

The vice president’s visit to South Florida — to discuss the Iran deal with Jewish residents, speak at Miami Dade College, and raise money for Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns — is his first high-profile trip since the prospect of him challenging Hillary Clinton for the nomination ceased to seem so far-fetched. Reporters and Biden’s friends alike will be watching for signals about his level of interest.

But for all of the vice president’s Florida ties and contacts — including top money-raisers and political strategists in his corner — it’s far easier to find Democrats who love the idea of the feisty, shoot-from-the-hip Biden running for president than Democrats who see a plausible path for him outside of the Clinton campaign falling off the tracks.

“I don’t hear anybody jumping off the Hillary Clinton ship. She has virtually every name in Florida,” said Chris Korge, a top Democratic fundraiser and longtime Clinton supporter in Miami. “Hillary’s got a hard-core group of supporters, a majority of which are women that are not shaking loose.”

Biden, 72, has significant Florida ties, including a younger brother in Palm Beach County; Miami developer Michael Adler, who was national finance chairman for his 2008 presidential campaign; Patrick Baskette of Tampa, a veteran Democratic consultant who worked on Biden’s U.S. Senate staff and his 1988 presidential campaign; and Tallahassee lobbyist Steve Schale, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 Florida campaign and is now advising the Draft Biden 2016 Super PAC.

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Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press