After months of breathless speculation, Vice President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he will not mount a campaign for the presidency in 2016.
The vice president made his decision public in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday afternoon, with his wife Jill and President Obama at his side. He explained that while he was now emotionally prepared to run following the May death of his son Beau, it was too late for him to effectively challenge Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along 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,” he said. “I’ve concluded it has closed.”
“I couldn’t do this if my family wasn’t ready. The good news is, the family has reached that point,” he said. “Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time — the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”
Biden and his surrogates have toyed with the idea of a presidential run since August, when his team leaked word that son Beau Biden urged the vice president to run for the White House just weeks before he died earlier this year. For weeks, the press has been inundated with reports of Biden staffers and advisers hinting at a presidential run. On Monday, Pennsylvania Democratic congressman Brendan Boyle tweeted that a source close to Biden told him the vice president would announce his campaign this week.
Just yesterday, Biden appeared to be trying out lines of attack against the Clinton campaign. “It is possible, it is necessary to end this notion that enemy is the other party,” he told a group of Washington dignitaries at an event Tuesday. During the first Democratic debate last week, Clinton included Republicans on the list of those she’s proud to call her enemies.
In his Rose Garden announcement, Biden praised President Obama and urged Democrats to continue his legacy, but failed to endorse Clinton or offer any words of encouragement to her campaign. Instead, he reiterated his plea for an end to partisan enmity in an apparent shot at the former secretary of state.
“I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies,” he said. “They are our opposition, they’re not our enemies. And for the sake of the country, we have to work together.”
“How can we move forward without being able to arrive at consensus?” Biden asked. “Four more years of this kind of pitched battle may be more than this country can take. We have to change it.”