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Is Biden Stoking the Fire - Or Throwing Cold Water on It?

Image: Biden can be seen through hedges as he arrives to attend the presidential daily briefing at the White House in Washington

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) can be seen through hedges as he arrives to attend the presidential daily briefing at the White House in Washington August 24, 2015. More prominent Democrats on Sunday cracked open the door for Biden to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination as party front-runner Hillary Clinton battled questions over her use of a private email server. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Reuters

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Biden: My heart and soul “are pretty well banged up”

We heard Vice President Joe Biden talk about his thoughts on a 2016 run for the first time since the speculation took off earlier this month, and he sounded like a man who’s too personally wounded to jump into the presidential waters with both feet. In a conference call with DNC members yesterday to talk about the Iran deal, Biden said, “I've given this a lot of thought and dealing internally in the family about how we do this," referring to a possible White House run, as NBC’s Kristen Welker reported on “Today.” He later added to the DNC members, per Welker: "If I were to announce to run, I 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 -- and right now both are pretty well banged up." Those comments match what we wrote yesterday, as well as Politico’s Glenn Thrush’s reporting. “The Joe Biden who has been reaching out to Democratic operatives and would-be donors for a potential 2016 bid isn’t quite the happy warrior of bygone days,” Thrush wrote.

This isn’t a way to build up a fire for 2016; it’s a way to throw water on it

Folks, this isn’t a way to stoke the 2016 fire. Indeed, it’s more throwing water on it. It’s as if Biden was trying to tell the political world: calm down. Of course, Biden’s comments come as another Quinnipiac poll (this one national) shows him with a better fav/unfav rating than Clinton, and has him performing slightly better in hypothetical general-election matchups than Hillary does. (The same poll, though, shows Hillary leading both Biden and Sanders in the Dem race.) Then again, campaigns-in-waiting are usually going to poll better than the campaigns already underway. In football terms, think about it as the excitement for the backup quarterback who hasn’t thrown an interception yet.

Flashback: Biden's First Presidential Run 2:17

Biden and Elizabeth Warren aren’t exactly BFFs

By the way, given Biden’s meeting last weekend with Elizabeth Warren -- plus the speculation that Warren could be part of a ticket with the vice president -- don’t miss the Boston Globe piece noting that they haven’t been BFFs in the past. Just consider this 2002 New York Times letter to the editor that Warren wrote, which called out Biden for work he was doing a bankruptcy bill. “Banking and credit lobbyists have been trying to change the bankruptcy laws for years. The current bill was stuck in conference between the Senate and House until Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware — where many banks and credit-card issuers are incorporated — agreed to vote with Republicans on almost all the issues that were holding up the bill. But Mr. Biden also told his Democratic colleagues that he would support an amendment to stop abortion protesters from using bankruptcy protection to avoid damages they might otherwise have to pay for violating federal law in violent clinic protests.” Warren wasn’t wrong here: There’s a reason why so many banks and credit-card companies are based in Delaware.

Hillary: “I should have used two emails… I take responsibility for that decision”

Yesterday while campaigning in Iowa, Hillary Clinton was more contrite than we’ve seen since the email scandal first began. “I should have used two emails [for works and personal use],” she said. “I take responsibility for that decision.” It’s worth asking: What if that had been her tone two or three months ago? Indeed, in the span of a week or two, she’s gone from defiance and humor to acceptance and contrition. The problem for her is that this contrition is late -- and the transparency, frankly, has been dragged out from her.

Is Trump getting into Jeb’s head?

You have to ask the question after Bush said this yesterday: “We need leadership in Washington, D.C. High-energy leadership.” Of course, that comes after Trump has been saying -- time after time -- that Jeb Bush is a “low-energy” person. This is the downside of Jeb engaging with Trump: He’s starting to get into Jeb’s head.

Obama marks 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Finally, President Obama heads to New Orleans to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – and mark the opening of a new community center in the Lower 9th Ward there. "Not long ago, our gathering here in the Lower 9th might have seemed unlikely," Obama is expected to say in his 4:55 pm ET remarks, according to the AP. "But today, this new community center stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people, of the entire Gulf Coast, indeed, of the United States of America. You are an example of what's possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future."

On the trail

Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Greenville, SC at 11:00 am ET… Hillary Clinton holds an organizing event in Cleveland, OH… Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee are in Iowa… Rand Paul stumps in Idaho… And Martin O’Malley is in New Hampshire.

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