By Paul Kane and Karen Tumulty,
Vice President Biden’s announcement Wednesday that he will not seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination has given a further boost to resurgent frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton and clarified her terms of engagement with Bernie Sanders, who is waging a challenge from her left.
Biden ended months of speculation with his blunt acknowledgment that “the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president” has closed for him, as he and his distraught family have worked through their grief over the death in May of his eldest son, Beau.
“Unfortunately, I believe we are out of time — the time necessary to mount a campaign for the nomination,” Biden said as President Obama stood protectively by his side in the White House Rose Garden.
Polls indicate that, had Biden jumped in at this late stage, he would have drawn votes primarily from Clinton. The two come from the same center-left sector of the Democratic Party, have similar long-standing institutional ties and allegiances within the party and can both claim relevant national security and legislative experience.
The massive interest surrounding Biden’s deliberations had underscored Clinton’s significant vulnerabilities, as well as strengths — both in her quest for the nomination and in a general election contest.
But the former secretary of state also has a formidable — probably insurmountable — head start. And after a bumpy few months, her standing has improved considerably over the past week, after her commanding performance at the first Democratic debate in Las Vegas.
“She was the likely nominee yesterday, and she’s the slightly more likely nominee today,” said David Axelrod, who was the chief political strategist for Obama’s two presidential campaigns, including his 2008 primary victory over Clinton.
With Biden’s decision, the Democratic primary has become a two-way race between Clinton and Sanders, a Vermont senator who describes himself as a democratic socialist. Sanders has been drawing massive crowds of exuberant supporters across the nation, and he nearly matched Clinton’s fundraising in the most recent quarter.
“In some ways, it’s simpler now,” said Sanders adviser Tad Devine. “It’s Bernie. It’s Hillary. It’s binary. It’s not triangular any more. Choose one or the other.”
Meanwhile, two more tests loom before Clinton …Read More

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