Vice President Joe Biden announced he will not pursue a third run at the presidency on Wednesday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden with his wife Dr. Jill Biden and President Barack Obama by his side.
Biden said as his family navigated their grief following the death of his son, Beau, that the window to a winning presidential campaign may close before they are ready. He said in September that any campaign would be a “family decision.”
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along, what I’ve said time and again to others, that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for President, that it might close. I’ve concluded it has closed,” Biden said on Wednesday with his wife next to him.
“I know from previous experience, there is no timetable for this process,” Biden said.
Biden said he intends to “speak out clearly and forcefully” as the 2016 campaign continues.
“I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition — not our enemies,” Biden said, an overt response to something former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during the first Democratic debate. She said Republicans were the enemy she was most proud of having. He said something similar on Tuesday at George Washington University.
A national poll from CNN/ORC on Monday had placed Biden third among potential Democratic candidates.
The two top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination issued statements of support to Biden on Wednesday.
.@VP is a good friend and a great man. Today and always, inspired by his optimism and commitment to change the world for the better. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 21, 2015
Here’s the statement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) October 21, 2015
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump also offered his thoughts about Biden’s announcement.
I think Joe Biden made correct decision for him & his family. Personally, I would rather run against Hillary because her record is so bad.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2015
The veep also defended Obama’s record during his address in the Rose Garden: “I believe President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence.”
It would be a “terrible mistake” to try to undo the last eight years, he said.
“Democrats should not only defend and protect this record,” Biden said. “They should run on this record.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) — who worked on Biden’s presidential campaign during the 1988 cycle — released a statement Wednesday.
There are few people in Washington over the last four decades who have been a greater champion for middle class Americans than Joe Biden. For the last seven years, Vice President Biden has served as one of President Obama’s closest advisers and played a critical role in advancing middle-class economics that brought our country back from a severe recession that was costing our economy 750,000 jobs a month. Prior to joining the Obama ticket in 2008, Senator Biden was one of the Senate’s most respected voices. His voice and support in the upcoming presidential election for whoever emerges as our nominee will be a powerful reminder of how much is at stake for hard working Americans.
Biden said he and his wife, a full-time English professor at a community college, plan to use their last months in office to champion causes they have long supported, including cancer research, access to education and support for military families.
“We found purpose in public life,” Biden said in the Rose Garden.
Draft Biden 2016, the super PAC formed to encourage Biden’s candidacy, released a statement on Wednesday following Biden’s remarks.
“We are so grateful for the gigantic outpouring of support from hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country in our effort to encourage the Vice President to run,” said Will Pierce, executive director of Draft Biden 2016, in a statement. “While the Vice President has decided not to run, we know that over the next year he will stand up for all Americans and articulate a vision for America’s future that will leave no one behind.”
Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. A few weeks after his election, his wife and 1-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. (A speech about the accident’s impact was used in a television ad by the Draft Biden 2016 urging Biden to run. It was later pulled from air and replaced by an ad that doesn’t mention the accident.) He was re-elected six times before resigning in 2009 to become the 47th Vice President.
Watch a clip of his announcement below: