On a freezing morning, Hillary Clinton was delivering an impassioned speech at the University of Miami on terrorism, when she spotted something strange.
“Did he look stressed?” Ms. Clinton, a former secretary of state, asked a Hillary for America volunteer. “Just saying,” she added, to some polite laughter.
Mr. Biden, the former vice president, stood out from the crowd for his somewhat darker expression.
“I saw him too,” she said, “and that first thing that struck me was the way he was shaking his head as a result of her, just in disbelief that something like that could have happened.”
Mr. Biden, secretary of state from 2009 to early 2011, was with the king of Saudi Arabia Monday morning, speaking in the Persian Gulf country about the threat from Iranian meddling in the Middle East.
Mr. Biden addressed the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and Saudi exile, who has said he was dismembered by a body double with a bone saw at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. His disappearance and killing have already drawn concerns among Western leaders. Mr. Biden’s main message, according to an aide, was that the leadership in the Saudi kingdom had to show leadership on the matter.
Other U.S. officials who have spoken with Saudi officials have said that some had suggested that the slaying was carried out by a group acting on orders from higher up the Saudi chain of command. But Mr. Biden’s aides did not suggest any evidence suggesting that Mr. Khashoggi’s killing had been ordered from within the highest levels of the Saudi leadership.
“While there are concerns about the ruler and the administration’s response,” Mr. Biden told reporters, “the king and I looked at each other and we both said we just have to be assertive. We’ve got to lead here.”
Mr. Biden has said he is considering a run for president in 2020. The White House has already signalled, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling the former vice president a “lifelong friend” who was welcome to join the administration if he chooses to run.