WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Joe Biden in 2016?

The vice president is stoking — and joking — speculation that he may be laying groundwork for a presidential campaign with a series of meetings with Democratic supporters throughout the long weekend of inauguration festivities.

Biden was meeting with delegates from the Democratic National Committee during a private reception Tuesday following a DNC meeting. The vice president held events at the Naval Observatory over the weekend, invited New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan to his swearing-in and dropped by an Iowa inaugural ball, prompting interest in his plans.

Biden told CNN in an interview Monday that there are “a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn’t run” but that he was focused on helping President Barack Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains a heavy favorite if she decides to run.

However, while Speaking at the Iowa State Society inauguration ball, the Vice President said, “I’m proud to be President of the United States.”

Laughter and a whisper from someone on the stage prompted Biden to correct his words.

“I’m proud to be Vice President of the United States,” he said, “and I’m prouder to be Barack Obama… President Barack Obama’s Vice President.”

“Well, there goes that,” Biden joked. “Look, on a serious note, I guess I’m lucky to get back to a serious note.”

Iowa begins the presidential selection process every four years by holding the first caucus leading up to the national primaries.

On Sunday, another Democrat from an early caucus state came to witness Biden’s second term in office. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan — elected in November with 55 percent of the vote — attended the vice president’s official swearing-in ceremony with her husband and daughter at the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington.

But if Biden plans to run, speculative early polls show that Hillary Clinton would be a tough opponent.

A CNN Poll recorded between Dec. 17-18 showed 66 percent of Democrats could support Biden in a presidential bid, compared to 85 percent who said they could support Clinton.

Biden also made a surprise appearance at the Latino Inaugural Gala, speaking to a Hispanic constituency that is quickly becoming one of the largest voter demographics in the country.

Released last week, a more recent poll showed the vice president’s approval rating holding at 59 percent, with 38 percent saying they disapprove of the job he is doing.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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