**FILE** In this Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden addresses the 6th North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum welcoming reception in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

NEW YORK (The New York Times) — For months, Hillary Rodham Clinton has been telling crowds, the news media, and anyone else who will listen that she “always thought this would be a competitive race.”

But she did not, at least until this past weekend, seriously anticipate the competition would include Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Biden has not yet announced whether he will join the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, but reports over the weekend that the 72-year-old former Delaware senator was seriously exploring a bid reignited discussion among Mrs. Clinton’s advisers about what his potential candidacy would mean for the contest ahead.

The scenario of a Clinton-Biden matchup brought mixed emotions inside Mrs. Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters. Many of Mrs. Clinton’s senior staff members previously worked for Mr. Biden and hold him in the highest regard, especially after his son, Beau Biden, died in May at the age of 46 after a long battle with brain cancer.

But Mrs. Clinton’s allies do not hide their annoyance at the implication by Mr. Biden’s advisers and supporters that she is vulnerable, and ripe for a challenge from the vice president.

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