Vice President Joe Biden's political allies have reportedly concluded that he can win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
According to the Wall Street Journal they are making this projection even if - as widely expected - Hillary Clinton enters the contest.
Although the Vice President has made no public decision about his future yet, sources told the WSJ that he hasn't ruled out a bid for the White House.
That means an epic battle between two of the party's most prominent figures could well be on the cards in 2016.
Clues are already contained in his schedule. Biden is reportedly preparing to attend a Democratic event in Iowa, traditionally the site of the first nominating contest, he will also help raise money this week for the Democratic governor of New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary.
But he's not out of the woods. Many prominent Democrats told the WSJ that Clinton would be so heavily favored in a presidential primary that Biden and other party hopefuls wouldn't even contest the nomination were she to run.
A recent poll in New Hampshire showed Clinton leading Biden and other possible Democratic candidates by upward of 50 points.
'I don't see Biden and Hillary running against each other,' David Axelrod, the senior strategist in both of President Obama's presidential campaigns and who worked for Clinton's New York senatorial bid in 2000 told the WSJ. 'I would be shocked to see that materialize.'
But Biden loyalists aren't that easily dissuaded. They say he has close ties to elected officials nationwide, he can attract crowds and money, and he is a visible part of an administration that is popular with Democratic voters.
'He's the vice president of the United States of America! When you're the sitting vice president and you're running against anybody, you still have a chance,' one person close to Biden told the WSJ.
Biden allies point to the accomplishments of President Obama notched up over two terms. If the economic recovery continues, Biden could run on the basis that he was a partner in combating the recession. Unemployment hit 10% in the first year of Obama's term and as of July was down to 7.4%. The deficit has also shrunk faster on Obama's watch than it has under any previous president.
'My guess is it would be a legacy campaign, continuing to build on the success they've had in the administration,' a source said.
Over the past half century, vice presidents who ran for president almost always captured their party's nomination. Al Gore did so in 2000; George H.W. Bush saw off a challenge from Senator Bob Dole in 1988. Hubert Humphrey won the nomination in 1968 and Richard Nixon easily won the GOP nomination in 1960.
One Democratic official close to Biden told the WSJ: 'Everyone involved in his world is engaged in taking all the steps that make sense to prepare for a run, if he does run.'
Biden's famous propensity for making doubtful off the cuff remarks may be one issue that give his supporters pause. In 2010 he noted that the then Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen's mother had 'lived in Long Island for ten years or so' before her death.
'God rest her soul,' Biden said, before realizing that he's made a gaffe. 'Wait – your mom’s still…your mom’s still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.'
Republicans have remained silent on a possible Biden run. 'Any traction he gets will detract from the Hillary Clinton juggernaut, and as long as he's out there being unintentionally funny, the Democrats look bad,' a source told the Daily Mail.