The White House said Thursday that Vice President Joe Biden deserved "time and space" to decide whether to launch a presidential run, after he told Democrats he and his family were weighing the prospect.
"The decision that anyone makes to run for president of the United States is an intensely personal one," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to New Orleans.
"That's why we have gone to great lengths to try to give the vice president the time and space that he has earned to make this intensely personal decision," Earnest added.
"That is, as he told the DNC members yesterday, exactly what he's doing right now."
Biden, 72, has been mulling whether to jump in and challenge Democratic frontrunner and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for their party's nomination.
He has huddled with advisors and last weekend met privately with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a power broker in the party's liberal wing.
On a Wednesday conference call, Biden told members of the Democratic National Committee that he and his family were "dealing at home with... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," according to CNN, which said it obtained access to the discussion.
Biden spoke for more than an hour on the main subject of the call, the Iran nuclear deal, but when he opened the call to questions someone asked him about his political future.
"If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up," Biden acknowledged to DNC members.
"Believe me, I've given this a lot of thought and dealing internally with the family on how we do this," CNN quoted Biden as saying.
The family was plunged into grief in May when the vice president's 46-year-old son Beau Biden died from brain cancer.
When pressed about conversations between Obama and Biden over a possible candidacy, Earnest demurred, saying he would "protect their privacy."
And while he added that Biden "has earned the right to make this decision on a timeframe of his own choosing," Earnest said Biden has "acknowledged some of the time limitations associated with that."
Biden has said he would decide by the end of the summer. The first Democratic Party primary debate is scheduled for October 16.
A Quinnipiac University poll Thursday showed Clinton's support in the Democratic race slipping to 45 percent, while Biden was at 18 percent.
It also had Biden performing the best of any Democrat in general-election matchups against top Republicans, besting top GOP candidates Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio by wider margins than those by which Clinton led them.