Joe Biden tells New Hampshire Dems, ‘Guys, I’m not running’
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that he would not seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, attempting to quell speculation raised by an early post-election visit to New Hampshire.
Biden was in the first-in-the-nation primary state to honor the nation’s first all-female, all-Democratic congressional delegation at the state Democratic Party’s annual dinner in Manchester.
“When I got asked to speak, I knew it was going to cause speculation,” he said to big applause. “Guys, I’m not running.”
The crowd booed and at least one person shouted, “Run, Joe Run,” before Biden continued with his speech. He said that he was ready to start raising money and campaigning to help get Democrats elected at every level of government. He also touted some of his post-White House policy work including heading up the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
Biden told the crowd to abandon the false narrative that Democrats have to choose between progressive idealism and being a party that stands up for the working class. Instead, he said, there is nothing keeping the party from being both.
“What’s the core reason why you’re a Democrat?” he asked. “Because you abhor the abuse of power. Whether it’s financial power, psychological power, physical power.”
Biden also told those in attendance that they needed to remind “the 172,000 voters we needed” in the 2016 election that the Democratic Party has not forgotten them and understands them.
“A lot of them wonder whether we’ve forgotten them. They are being abused by the system. They are as decent as any one of us are,” he said. “So folks, let’s go win it back.”
The former Delaware senator caused a minor furor in December when he told reporters, “I’m going to run in 2020. So, uh, what the hell, man?”
When Biden was asked if his statement was serious, he initially said, “Yeah, I am. We’re going to run again.” He then appeared to backtrack, saying that he was “not commiting not to run. I learned a long time ago fate has a funny way of intervening.”
Biden would be 77 years old on Election Day 2020. If he won the presidency, he would be 78 on Inauguration Day.
Biden’s visit comes just days after Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 GOP nomination, was in the state to promote his new book.
Biden has remained visible since his two terms as vice president ended, rallying with Democrats at the U.S. Capitol last month on health care and criticizing Republican President Donald Trump’s coziness with Russia. He’s also been promoting the Cancer Moonshoot effort.
Biden’s possible late entry into the 2016 presidential race was a subject of fevered speculation. However, the vice president ultimately opted not to run, clearing the way for Hillary Clinton to secure the Democratic nomination before losing to Republican Donald Trump in the general election.
Biden recently told students at Colgate University that he believed he could have won the 2016 presidential election had he run but didn’t believe he was ready so soon after his son Beau’s 2015 death from cancer. He said he regrets not having been president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.