In a conference call on Wednesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Democratic National Committee members that he was uncertain if his family had the “emotional fuel” for another presidential campaign.
The call was intended as a pitch for the nuclear containment deal with Iran, but after an hour or so of speaking at length in support of the agreement, the first question that Mr. Biden received was about whether he was prepared to join the presidential race.
When speaking on the Iran deal, his voice was clear and determined, describing his staunch support of Israel but saying that he wholeheartedly believed the Iran agreement was solid.
But when discussing his family, Mr. Biden sounded somber, and without naming his son Beau, who died on May 30, he spoke of a family in deep grief.
Were he to run, he would “have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul,” he said, “and right now, both are pretty well banged up.”
“I’m not trying to skirt your question,” he said. “That’s the truth of the matter, but believe me, I’ve given this a lot of thought and dealing internally with the family on how we do this.”
The call was not open to reporters, but the audio was made public by CNN.
Mr. Biden has been weighing whether to begin a campaign in a 2016 Democratic nominating contest in which many of President Obama’s advisers have aligned with Hillary Rodham Clinton. A Draft Biden movement is underway, led by a former aide to Beau Biden, and some of the vice president’s advisers have been in touch with people about how to put together enough money for a campaign and for a “super PAC,” according to people briefed on the discussions and who were granted anonymity to speak about private conversations.
Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, described Mr. Biden as a friend and seemed to give him space to make up his mind.
“I have a great deal of admiration and affection for him,” she said. “And I think he has to make what is a very difficult decision for himself and his family, and he should have the space and the opportunity to decide what he wants to do. I’m going to be running for president regardless, and I’m going to be continuing to put forth my policies.”
She added, “I always thought this would be a competitive campaign.”
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