Bill Nelson doesn’t believe Joe Biden will challenge Hillary Clinton for Dem nom

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Vice President Joe Biden is taking some downtime with his wife Jill this week in South Carolina. When he returns to Washington, he’s expected to announce whether or not he’ll take on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Associated Press reports that 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.

There is still considerable doubt about whether he’d actually pull the trigger. Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, for one, predicts that the vice president will ultimately decide not to pursue a third bid for the White House.

“Right now it is my expectation that Hilary Clinton will be the nominee,” the Florida Democrat said on Friday, adding that Biden has “been an incredible vice-president, one of the best that we’ve ever had.”

Although there has been idle speculation throughout this year on whether or not the vice president would pursue a path to the White House, those thoughts had grown dormant,  considering how much institutional support Clinton has within the Democratic Party, and the fact that Biden has been dealing this summer with the tragic death of his son Beau from brain cancer.

But speculation ramped up after Maureen Dowd wrote in last week’s Sunday New York Times that Beau Biden, before his death, urged his father to run for the presidency.

Whether Biden does or not, the fact is that there are increasing numbers of people within the Democratic Party who appear to be growing uneasy about Hillary Clinton, as reports continue to dribble out about her home email server. Hence the search for another figure to enter the race.

On Thursday, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced that there would be six scheduled Democratic primary debates. That’s a minuscule amount compared to the last competitive Democratic presidential primary race, back in 2007-2008, when the party held more than 20 such candidate forums/debates.

Two of Clinton’s top challengers in the race, Vermont independent socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have blasted the DNC’s announcement on debates,  saying that six such events are far too few.

But Nelson, who appears to be firmly in the Team Hillary camp, dismissed those complaints.

“Six debates? Well, why not five? Why not four?” he questioned when asked to comment on Sanders’ and O’Malley’s criticisms.

“What you want to do is have an opportunity to see them in a different light, other than what you’re seeing everyday on the campaign trail,” he told this reporter in his district office in Tampa.

Nelson added that he had enjoyed watching Thursday night’s GOP president debate, calling it “really great entertainment.” But he expressed a disdain for the length of the campaign season, as well as how much big money continues to play in our elections.

“I think the American public is kind of sick and tired of so much attention to politics, well over a year and a half before the election,” he said, adding that people are “sort of tuning out.”

They weren’t on Thursday, though, with the debate being seen by nearly 24 million people, the biggest audience ever for a cable news program.

Nelson has been an advocate for overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision that has allowed for even more money to flow into the political system.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.