Sat. 9:53 p.m.: Biden expected to decide about race after weeklong retreat

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden and his wife are retreating from Washington for a week in South Carolina with little on their schedule but a momentous decision to make: whether he should run for president.

Biden’s advisers say he hasn’t indicated which way he’s leaning. The vice president is still mourning the death of his son barely two months ago. But since reports surfaced saying he was taking a fresh look at running, potential campaign staffers have begun sending in their resumes, aides said, and longtime Biden donors have offered to help if he gets in the race.

And while Biden has yet to ask staff to organize on his behalf, he has started showing interest in details like filing deadlines and what it would take for him to raise enough money to build a campaign structure in the limited time left, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly.

So shortly after Biden returns from his vacation, his aides and supporters are expecting a decision about his political plans.

A Biden candidacy is still believed by his associates to be unlikely. It would dramatically reshape the Democratic race and undercut the sense of inevitability surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton. Although still the clear front-runner, Clinton has seen declines in her favorability ratings just as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been drawing large crowds, demonstrating the appetite in the party for a Clinton alternative.

In the few months left before the primaries begin, it would be tough for Biden to put together a viable operation – but not impossible, said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic strategist.

“You supercharge the money collection by putting together significantly rich people or those with extraordinary fundraising capacity,” Sheinkopf said. “There has always been a certain dislike and jealousy of the Clintons. He’s got to be able to tap into that.”