WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he will not pursue a 2016 presidential bid, bringing an end to weeks of speculation over whether or not he would shake up the Democratic primary.
“I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” Biden said in a statement at the White House.
Weighing heavily on Biden’s decision was the death of his son, Beau Biden, earlier this year. Biden, who was joined during his Rose Garden statement by his wife and President Obama, said his family has gotten through the grieving process, but not in time for a 2016 run.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along…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,” Biden said. “I’ve concluded that it has closed.”
Biden, who has run for president twice before, delivered plenty of signs over the past month that he was seriously considering making a late entrance into the race. He and close aides have reached out to potential supporters in the early voting states to assess how much support he would have if he mounted a run.
But the former Delaware senator would have had an uphill battle. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed him trailing both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in support among Democrats nationally.
After the announcement, Clinton tweeted that she is “inspired” by the vice president.
Another major hurdle for Biden is that he has raised no money while his rivals have spent months amassing cash.
Though now officially out of the race, Biden promised to remain a prominent voice in the ongoing campaign, calling for a stronger middle class, affordable higher education and advances in medical research that he hoped would bring an end to cancer.
“While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation,” he said.
The announcement likely means the 72-year-old’s political career will come to a close with the end of the Obama administration in January of 2017.
It also means the Democratic primary race will essentially be a two-person contest between Clinton and Sanders.
“Joe Biden, a good friend, has made the decision that he feels is best for himself, his family and the country,” Bernie Sanders said in a statement. “I thank the vice president for a lifetime of public service and for all that he has done for our nation. I look forward to continuing to work with him to address the major crises we face.”
Draft Biden, a group working to recruit Biden into the race, said in a statement: “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. 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.”