By CBS NEWS
Vice President Joe Biden is still thinking about whether he will run for president and challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Biden would need to finalize his decision by September in order to give himself enough time to get a ground organization and fundraising operation running. His chief of staff Steve Richetti has been reaching out to and fielding inquiries from Democratic leaders and some donors, to try to keep Biden's options open in the event that he does decide to run. Some close confidants still consider it very unlikely, particularly as he grieves the death of his on, Beau.
"As the Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the Vice President is focused on his family and immersed in his work," Kendra Barkoff, a Biden spokeswoman, said in a statement to CBS News. "In recent weeks, the Vice President has worked on the nuclear deal with Iran, traveled across the country to highlight the Administration's economic priorities, and more."
There has been an outpouring of support for Biden in the wake of his son's death. Some of the impetus for a bid has come from these well-wishers, who are also looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton.
Biden is polling in the low double-digits in national surveys. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows him placing third in a Democratic primary match-up, with 13 percent of voters saying they would vote for Biden. He tops Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley but trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 17 percent of voter support, and Hillary Clinton with 55 percent. But Clinton has been struggling with favorability ratings: Quinnipiac shows that 51 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of her, and equally troubling -- some 57 percent think she's untrustworthy.
Grassroots support has also heightened efforts to recruit vice president for the 2016 election. Draft Biden, a super PAC formed by the Democrats' supporters on the ground, recently released a digital ad where several supporters declared they are "ridin' with Biden." Draft Biden has 180,000 signatures, but its fundraising is under $100,000 at this point.
As for the vice president himself, sources close to Biden say that he is "actively passive" when it comes to determining if he should throw his hat into the presidential ring -- though they note that this is far from a new development.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd alsp reported that Biden has held meetings at the vice president's residence, talking to "friends, family and donors about jumping in." Dowd also wrote in her column that in Beau Biden's final days, he begged his father to run, telling him, "Dad, it's who you are."
And since his son's death, the vice president has also resumed Democratic fundraising efforts, appearing at three fundraisers in late July in Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
In order to enter the race, Biden would need to see a viable path to the nomination, but family concerns are paramount right now. He's not interested in being a sparring partner for Clinton, though he has thought about an economic platform as a champion of the middle class. In the past, confidants have said that he'd be able to quickly mobilize a donor network should he get into the race.
CBS News' John Dickerson and Mark Knoller contributed to this report.