Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will not run for president in 2016. In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, with President Barack Obama by his side, Biden said he has missed his window to run as he’s mourned the death of his son Beau in May. “I’ve concluded it has closed,” Biden said.
“Unfortunately, I believe we are out of time,” he said.
Although Biden will not be mounting a presidential campaign, he sounded eager to continue pushing his ideas. “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent,” he said, adding that any Democrat who wants to replace Obama needs to support the legacy of the current president. “Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on this record.”
Biden’s decision not to run leaves Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination. Polls showed Biden consistently behind Clinton and Sanders and indicated that he would have chipped largely at Clinton’s base of support if he entered the race. Biden didn’t sound particularly eager to back Clinton at this time. “I don’t believe, as some do, that it’s naïve to talk to Republicans,” Biden said, an apparent dig at Clinton’s boast in the last debate about making Republican enemies. “I don’t believe that we should look at Republicans as our enemies.”
Biden has been flirting with a presidential run all year. This spring, a small band of former Obama staffers and volunteers formed a Draft Biden super-PAC encouraging the vice president to run. Initially a small-scale, unaffiliated group, Draft Biden eventually hired old Biden hands, lending it an air of legitimacy. Biden-mania picked up full steam when Maureen Dowd wrote a New York Times column in August detailing how Beau, on his deathbed, encouraged his father to run for president again—information that appears to have come from the vice president himself.