07/04/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Joe Biden, a Picket Line and 2016

Just how strongly is Joe Biden considering a third presidential bid in 2016? He's made more headlines for gaffes and botched jokes than he has for helping the president in moving legislation through the Senate or navigating G-20 leaders.... But if anyone understands that a successful political career is a marathon, not a sprint, it's Biden... and eight years is a long time.

Last night in New Jersey, the vice president gave a speech to the Democratic faithful rallying behind Governor Jon Corzine, who faces a tough reelection campaign this fall. Biden's appearance had been hyped for weeks by nervous Jersey pols -- a sign that the Obama administration would not hang the unpopular Governor out to dry... and yet it almost didn't happen. But not because Corzine has negative approval ratings... because Biden would not cross a picket line.

The main reason Jon Corzine is unpopular has to do with his penchant for telling it like it is. Unlike the last fifteen years of New Jersey governors, he's confronting the state's fiscal problems head-on... and New Jersey's shooting the messenger. He's asked everyone to make sacrifices, including furloughs and cutbacks for state workers. Their union has been battling with Corzine for months now, and members have raised their voices in what seems like every anteroom of the state capitol. But Corzine knew they'd be back. (The Republican nominee, Chris Christie, has promised to fire -- not furlough -- thousands of state workers).

But the state workers pulled one over on the Governor: they would picket his grand Biden-backed campaign kickoff event... and whaddya know, the guest of honor won't cross their lines... Josh Margolin and Claire Heininger report in this morning's Star Ledger that a "last-minute, tentative settlement" between Corzine and the union was necessary for the VP to come in and give his speech.

Now, a Democratic source not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations said the decision not to cross union picket lines was as much the White House's as it was Biden's -- and that may be. But in his speech, Biden made a powerful, simple statement: "Some of the folks on the right characterize Biden as the administration's union guy... and guess what -- I AM, and I'm proud of it."

His meaning was not lost on the union leaders he helped out. Nor will it be forgotten by the state workers waking up to headlines of the compromise he forced....

So I ask again: just how strongly is Joe Biden considering a third presidential bid in 2016?