Last week was the very first Democratic debate, and there were far, far fewer presidential candidates on stage than during the very first Republican debate. But all of us were wondering. . . will the fifth candidate to step up on the stage during the next debate be Vice President Joe Biden? With his experience alongside President Obama in the Oval Office during the past seven years, many were gunning for Biden to step to the plate to fill the president’s shoes. After months of speculation, Biden’s decision has been made official: No, he will not be running in 2016.
Today, the vice president spoke in the White House Rose Garden with his wife, Jill, and the president by his side. “Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” Biden told the crowd.
As the New York Times notes, this announcement marks the end of one of the most public instances of presidential indecision in over two decades. For three months, starting shortly after the death of his son, Biden had been debating whether to run — a factor that very well could have fractured the Democratic party.
The Biden family has been grieving Beau Biden, who passed away from brain cancer in May of this year. “As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along. . . by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president,” Biden explained. “. . . I’ve concluded, it has closed. . . I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready.”
But although Biden feels he has run out of time to campaign for president, he says he will not just stand idly by. “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent,” he continued. “I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.”
Biden used the rest of his 13-minute speech to show us exactly what his platform would have been had he chosen to run: holding staunchly to Democratic values as the successor to the Obama administration. Biden’s speech also concentrated on income equality and a national movement to cure cancer. “If I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president that ended cancer, because it’s possible,” he said.
He also made a few pointed remarks toward his would-be challenger, Hillary Clinton, who is currently leading in the polls. “I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart, and I think we can,” Biden noted, likely in response to Clinton’s remarks during the debate about Republicans being “enemies.” “It’s mean-spirited, it’s petty, and it’s gone on for much too long. I don’t believe, like some do, that it’s naive to talk to Republicans. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They’re not our enemies.”
Biden has run for president twice in his long political career — once in 1988 and again in 2008. Though his decision to stay out of the race was highly-influenced by grief, his final decision after three months of pondering may have been at least partially the result of Clinton’s high performance in the first Democratic presidential debate. Just a week after the debate, polls show that she’s gained ground over her only real competitor, Bernie Sanders, and that Biden had lost hypothetical favor had he decided to run.
“Joe Biden is a good man and a great vice president,” Clinton said in a statement following Biden’s announcement. “. . . And I’m confident that history isn’t finished with Joe Biden.”
Calling Biden a “good friend,” Sanders noted in a statement that he “has made the decision that he feels is best for himself, his family and the country.”
(Image via Twitter.)