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By Steve Holland

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden on Monday gave a glimpse of what a Biden race for the Democratic presidential nomination would look like should he decide to make a late entry into the race after a highly public period of soul-searching.

In a speech and walkabout at a rally in downtown Pittsburgh, Biden marked Labor Day with a full-throated appeal for steps to fix income inequality and gave a picture of the personal touch he would offer on the campaign trail.

Biden, 72, looked energetic and eager. He jogged back and forth across a downtown Pittsburgh street to greet people who met him with cheers of “Run Joe Run.”

He seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself as he snapped selfie photos and waded into the crowd to shake hands.

Biden is conflicted about entering a Democratic race for the November 2016 election dominated thus far by Hillary Clinton, the party’s favorite, and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders.

Speaking to members of the United Steelworkers as he ended his Pittsburgh visit, Biden praised Sanders as “doing a hell of a job.” When a worker shouted “Biden for president,” Biden dodged the issue.

“No… You’ve got to talk to my wife about that. I’ve got to talk to my wife about that,” he said.

Biden said last week he is not sure he has the emotional energy for a candidacy following the death of his son Beau in May from cancer. He has given himself variously until later this month and possibly as long as until November to act on an appeal earlier this year from Beau to run for president.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who accompanied Biden in walking the parade route, said he did not know if Biden would run, but added:

“If you’re looking for energy, this is a great place to get energy today.”

An eye-opener for Biden boosters was a fresh NBC News/Marist poll over the weekend that showed Biden gaining strength in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire race in spite of not being a candidate.

In introducing Biden for his speech, Trumka and United Steelworkers union chief Leo Gerard gave strong praise to Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“He has never let us down,” said Gerard.

Biden, in his rally speech, said the tax code is to blame for the rich getting a bigger piece of the economic pie.

“It used to be when productivity went up in America, everybody got a chance to share,” said Biden. “They got a piece of the action… Why in God’s name should a man or a woman working in a steel mill make $50,000 a year when someone on Wall Street makes millions of dollars a year?”

(Reporting by Steve Holland Editing by W Simon and Dan Grebler)

Photo: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks prior to the kickoff of the Allegheny County Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh, PA September 7, 2015. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk  

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