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Joe Biden In Final Stages Of Preparing For 2020 Presidential Campaign, CBS News Reports

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WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS/AP) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden is in the final stages of preparing for a 2020 presidential campaign, CBS News reports. Biden's campaign is expected to launch next month.

"He's much more confident than he was previously," a person familiar with Biden's plans told CBS News.

"So, at this point as we understand it, he's putting together a team of senior staffers, they are going to make some selections as to where the campaign should be based," said CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe. "At some point soon, they'll start making some job offers in primary states and he'll go from there."

Biden has also told friends that he thinks he is the Democrat's best chance to beat President Donald Trump in 2020.

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Past and current advisers to Biden have held frequent conversations about options to alleviate concerns about age, including teaming him with a younger running mate. One option that has been floated, according to a source with knowledge of the talks, is outgoing Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who at 46 has become the subject of intense 2020 speculation after nearly beating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

"He's someone, at the age of 76, is going to have to explain or defend what he has done, said or supported in the past when the Democratic Party is increasingly younger and far more diverse than he was when he began in politics," explained O'Keefe.

During a stop on his book tour last December, Biden said he was the most qualified person to be president.

"I'll be as straight with you as I can. I think I'm the most qualified person in the country to be president," Biden, the former Delaware senator, said. "The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I've worked on my whole life."

"No one should run for the job unless they believe that they would be qualified doing the job. I've been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right but I know a great deal about it," he added.

Biden has already been seizing on an opening to position himself as the sole global policy expert in a crowded Democratic field if he decides to run for president.

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In a series of speeches over the past month, Biden portrayed himself as an authoritative counterweight to President Donald Trump's isolationist and nationalistic impulses. Last week, he told an audience in Germany that his vision of America "stands up to the aggression of dictators." The problems of the 21st century, he later said at the University of Pennsylvania, can't be solved "without there being cooperation." His advisers have endorsed his foreign policy credentials to key political operatives and allies in early-voting states.

The moves reflect the vulnerabilities Biden, a 76-year-old firmly aligned with the Democratic establishment, could exploit in a crowded primary with rivals who are decades younger and working overtime to appeal to the party's liberal base. In that kind of race, Biden could carve out space as a battle-tested statesman with the experience to stabilize America's role in the world.

Scott Mulhauser, Biden's former deputy chief of staff, said focusing on foreign policy and national security "is a smart way to draw distinctions" in the primary field.

But running on foreign policy could carry risks. Although the election season is in its infancy and a crisis could shuffle priorities, it's not clear that foreign policy is a top issue on voters' minds.

Trump's foreign policy has alarmed longtime allies and spurred criticism at home. A January AP-NORC survey found that 35 percent of Americans approve of the president on foreign policy, while 63 percent disapprove. Trump's slated second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week will provide a fresh opportunity for the president to rebound or fall further, as well as for his Democratic would-be opponents to draw sharp contrasts with his self-proclaimed "America First" diplomacy.

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But that doesn't mean that Democrats, who are sorting through the most diverse and wide-open primary field in a generation, will warm to a Biden campaign focused on foreign policy.

"He's got the experience, but I don't want him to run," said Julie Neff, of Ankeny, Iowa, home to the nation's first caucus. "I would vote for a ticket that promised to put Biden in the Cabinet, like as secretary of state."

In Biden's home state of Delaware, some voters say they're encouraged by the news.

"I honestly believe that he would make a great president," said voter Oubey Barett. "He's such a great person. I met him in person."

"I feel as though we should give him a chance. He's been cited very good," said voter Aubrae Ludden-Moses. "I've been watching him and he's actually from this state, so what else can he not know of?"

Some Trump supporters, however, say if Biden decides to run, it will be a tough fight.

"I like Donald Trump, the economy is changing a lot," said voter Steve Higman. "It will be difficult."

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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