Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will not be pursuing a presidential bid in 2016, ending months—even years—of speculation as to whether he would take on Hillary Clinton in what would have been his third White House run.
Flanked by his President Barack Obama and his wife, Biden—who has been polling as the most popular presidential candidate despite not actually being one—said that his family has been going through the grieving process after the loss of his son, Beau, to brain cancer earlier this year, and that he does not feel like he can launch a successful bid this late in the game.
"Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time—the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination," Biden said at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. "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."
Biden spoke at length about Beau and the strain a presidential run could put on his already-grieving family during a teary-eyed interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last month.
The vice president's decision not to run seems to clear the path for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. In a statement following his announcement Wednesday, the Democratic frontrunner called Biden a "good man and a great vice president," adding that "history isn't finished with Joe Biden."
Bernie Sanders, who is running in second in Democratic polls, similarly praised his almost-rival. "Joe Biden, a good friend, has made the decision that he feels is best for himself, his family and the country," 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
Naturally, Republicans are spinning Biden's decision a different way. "The Vice President's decision not to enter the 2016 race is a major blow for Democrats, who now will almost certainly be saddled with their unpopular and scandal plagued front-runner Hillary Clinton," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. Biden, he continued, "was the most formidable general election candidate the Democrat Party could have fielded, and his decision not to challenge Hillary Clinton greatly improves our chances of taking back the White House."
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