Joe Biden knows that this isn't how you're supposed to do it.
When you're thinking about running for president -- even when it's clear to everyone who's watching that you've already decided to run for president -- you're supposed to pretend that the idea hasn't even crossed your mind. Hillary Clinton understands the game; a spokeswoman says she's focused on "doing her job for New York." Tom Vilsack knows it; when we asked him the other day if he's running in 2008, he said he's focused on the current legislative session in Iowa and on the 2006 gubernatorial races. Mark Warner talks the talk; he told us that he wants to be "part of this debate" but is thinking about all sorts of options for the future. John McCain says he won't make a decision about 2008 until 2006. And when we asked Wes Clark about 2008, he thanked us for asking and then didn't answer the question.
So yes, Biden broke some unwritten rule of presidential posturing over the weekend when he pretty much declared his candidacy for the White House -- and he acknowledged as much as he did it. "My intention is to seek the nomination," Biden said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "I know I'm supposed to be more coy with you. I know I'm supposed to tell you, you know, that I'm not sure. But if, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination."
Biden ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988 but dropped out after he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. He flirted with a run in 2004 but decided against it, in part because his colleague John Kerry was way ahead of him in doing the groundwork needed for a campaign. Biden spokesman Norm Kurz says that his boss won't find himself in that position again. "Now he understands it's a long march, and if he was to do it, he'd be much better prepared," Kurz tells the Washington Post. "He understands you don't parachute in at the last second."
With nearly three-and-a-half years to go before Election Day 2008, no one can accuse Biden of doing that.