In the end, he didn’t do it. Joe Biden’s Rose Garden announcement that he’s not running for president caps nearly three months of speculation. With his wife, Jill, and President Obama at his side, Biden told the national press and members of the administration that he concluded the “door has closed” on a viable run.
But although he said he wouldn’t be a candidate, he certainly sounded like one. During his nearly 20-minute address, Biden unfurled what could only be described as a stump speech. He continued the passive-aggressive campaign against Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton that positioned him as the party’s savior-in-waiting. He took veiled shots at Clinton by asserting that Republicans aren’t “the enemy” — a jab at a comment she made during the Las Vegas debate — and he dinged her for flip-flopping on the president’s trade bill by saying the candidates should run on Obama’s record. He also went after Sanders’s populism by saying the rich can be part of the solution to the country’s problems.
Most revealing was how Biden closed his speech. He did as much as he could, given the setting, to preserve his political capital, ending on Obama-esque oratory and talking about “unlimited possibilities” and the need to be “one America again.” He said, “We can do this” — an echo of Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan” — and vowed, “When we do, America won’t just win the future. We will own the finish line.”
Biden’s candidacy has always been built on being his party’s backup plan. And nothing about this speech changed that. As he said earlier in his address: “I will not be silent.”