Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that he will not enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, apparently ceding the Democratic primary field to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and marking the end of a decades-long career in elected office. The announcement was made in the White House Rose Garden with Biden flanked by President Obama and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
The political world has been on tenterhooks for weeks awaiting Biden’s decision – something that was delayed by the death of the vice president’s son, Beau Biden, of cancer this summer. He said that the grieving process had consumed so much of his and his family’s time that a run for the White House was no longer realistic.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I have said all along what I’ve said time and again to others, that it may very well be that process by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president – that it might close. I concluded it has closed,” Biden said.
“I know from previous experience that there is no timetable for the process,” he added. “The process doesn’t respect or much care about things like filing deadlines or debates and primaries and caucuses. But I also know I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready. The good news is the family has reached that point. But as I said many times, my family has suffered loss and I hope there would come a time… that sooner, rather than later, when you think of your loved one, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. Well that’s where the Biden’s are today – thank god.’
“Beau is our inspiration, but unfortunately I believe we’re out of time – the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination. But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. 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 made good on that promise immediately, mounting a vigorous defense of the Obama administration’s policies and achievements during his seven years as vice president and urging the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination to run on that record.
Biden’s decision seemed to cede the Democratic primary field to, Clinton. While her closest challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has gathered considerable support, he remains far behind Clinton in the polls, and as an avowed socialist, is thought by many to be a non-starter in a general election campaign. Biden was seen as having the best chance to challenge Clinton for the nomination, and his decision not to run dramatically increases the likelihood that she will be on the ballot in November 2016.
However, Biden’s remarks were far from an endorsement of Clinton, whose name he did not mention. He even offered a few jabs at one of her recent slip-ups – referring to Republicans as her “enemies” during the first Democratic presidential debate.
“I don’t think it’s naive to talk to Republicans,” Biden said. “They are our opposition. They are not our enemies.”
The announcement also marked what is likely the end of a decades-long career in public office that began in 1969.