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The Lid: Joe Biden’s 2016 Ticket to Ride

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos.... CNN is setting up an extra podium for Joe Biden in case the vice president decides at the last minute to enter the 2016 race and participate in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate. In the effort to lure Biden into the contest, the network says that his custom-built podium would include an exact replica of a seat on an Amtrak Acela train.

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

Heading into tomorrow’s Democratic debate in Vegas, new polling out this morning gives us a stark reminder of one of the huge hurdles facing any would-be challenger to the 2008 runner-up: Clinton’s enormous lead with nonwhite voters. According to new CNN polls released in two diverse early states - South Carolina and Nevada - Clinton holds double-digit leads over the rest of the field. In South Carolina, only four (!) percent of black voters back Bernie Sanders -- and that number only jumps to seven percent if Biden chooses not to run.

And speaking of Biden, don’t miss our colleague Dante Chinni’s look over the weekend at the impact Biden would have on the Democratic field if he was to jump into the race in the coming days. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden is currently siphoning about twice as many votes from Clinton as from Sanders when he’s included in Democratic primary polls. So, here’s your friendly reminder: *If* we get a no from Biden in the coming days or weeks, brace yourself for a big realignment of what Democratic surveys show about Clinton’s advantage over her other rivals.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

Ari Melber writes on former Benghazi committee investigator Bradley Podliska’s federal lawsuit against the panel.

Dante Chinni crunched the numbers on what Joe Biden’s entry to the race would mean for the rest of the field.

On Morning Joe this morning, Chris Christie called Obama “the weakling in the White House” and slammed his Syria policy.

Here’s what the 2016 field is saying about Paul Ryan, via NBC News Washington interns Sara Dignan and Luke Barr.

In NBC’s First Read: Time is running out for Joe Biden.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BIDEN: POLITICO interviews gun control advocates who say that Biden made costly missteps as he pushed the administration’s agenda after Newtown.

RUBIO: He writes in a USA Today op-ed that the U.S. should keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.

SANDERS: Buzzfeed has a helpful rundown of his move to the left on gun control.

SANTORUM: He unveiled his economic plan during an appearance in Texas.

CLINTON: The Washington Post reports that Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills held a job that involved negotiating with officials in Abu Dhabi to build a college campus.

She said she doesn’t sweat and she was constructed in a garage in Palo Alto during an interview with a Buzzfeed podcast.

FOR THE RECORD…

“You guys are the first to realize that I’m really not even a human being. I was constructed in a garage in Palo Alto a very long time ago.”

-- Hillary Clinton on the Buzzfeed podcast “Another Round.”

TOMORROW’S SKED

The first Democratic presidential debate takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum campaign in Iowa.

Jeb Bush and John Kasich are in New Hampshire.