An in-depth look into the life of the Vice President—and the question of 2016:

“‘He wants to be the best vice president ever,’ staffers told me, months ago, when I first started spending time with Joe Biden. That was all the talk last winter. Hillary would almost certainly be the nominee, not Biden, they said, whenever the 2016 issue came up, which wasn’t often. But then, abruptly, Biden’s stock started steeply rising, at least in the eyes of the public. Washington had been hyperventilating about the fiscal cliff, and Obama sent Biden in to broker a deal. Then came the killings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Obama sent Biden out to rally the public, Biden in to reason with Congress, Biden over to talk to the NRA. In 2013, Biden has emerged increasingly more visibly potent than his boss. THE MOST INFLUENTIAL VICE PRESIDENT IN HISTORY? one headline proffered.

“‘Well, he would be crazy not to keep his options open,’ staffers started saying then, whenever the 2016 issue came up. Which still wasn’t often. The parlor game was not my reason for being there. I wanted to get to know Biden. I wanted to understand why ‘President Joe Biden’ has such a preposterous ring to it, and I wanted to know if he knew it did.”