Vice-President Joe Biden announced today that he will not be running for president in 2016.
“Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time,” he said, “the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”
However, Biden added, with President Obama standing beside him in the Rose Garden, “I will not be silent.” He said the next Democratic presidential candidate will have to show that they will plan on continuing the “Obama legacy.” Since the 72-year-old wasn’t going to get a chance to give an announcement speech, he also gave a sort of non-announcement announcement speech, laying out the policies he thought the next president needed to care about: the middle class, funding cancer research, immigration reform, LGBT rights, and bringing back the idea of compromise and consensus to national politics.
The latest NBC News/WSJ poll had Biden in third place in the Democratic presidential primary — even though his bid was nothing but a hypothetical — behind Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s support often jumps in polls where Biden hasn’t been an option — which means her campaign is probably feeling pretty good this afternoon.
Clinton and Sanders both sent out quick tweets reacting to Biden’s announcement.
At least one Republican candidate who has less of a chance of becoming president than Biden offered his commentary, too.
And Donald Trump is just feeling great, in case you were wondering.
Biden ran for president twice before: In 1988, his campaign ended after a plagiarism scandal, and in 2008, his campaign ended with a vice-presidential bid.
Since his son Beau died this summer, Biden and his family have been thinking very intensely about 2016 — he has been meeting with groups and donors and making many public appearances. However, it was never clear how Biden could have waged a successful bid, regardless of how much time he had, unless Clinton’s campaign exploded in an election-shaking conflagration. And after last week’s debate and the many bruises suffered by the Benghazi committee, it increasingly seems less likely that any major Clinton-sparked fireworks are going to happen in the near future.
Last month, Biden told Stephen Colbert — who, like the vice-president, is a religious man who has suffered an inordinate amount of loss in his life, “It’s going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don’t run.”
Biden explained his thinking on the race. “I don’t think any man or woman should run for president,” he said, “unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and, number two, they can look at folks out there and say, ‘I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this.’ And I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there.”