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Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he would not be a candidate for president.
After weeks of deliberations and indications from those close to the vice president that he would run in 2016, Biden made his decision public at a speech in the White House rose garden on Wednesday.
Flanked by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and President Obama, whom Biden thanked for letting him use the rose garden, the vide president said that he felt that he was no longer so deeply grieving the recent death of his son, Beau, who asked him to run for president, that he couldn’t run for office.
“My family has suffered loss and I hope there will come a time, and I’ve said this to many other people…that sooner rather than later, when you think of your loved ones, it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes. Well that’s where the Bidens are today, thank God. Beau is our inspiration.”
However, Biden said he believed he had run out of time “to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”
Although Biden didn’t endorse any of the current Democratic candidates, including former Secretary of State and front-runner Hillary Clinton, he used the rest of his time to praise the work the Obama administration had done and said he would continue to defend that, urging his fellow Democrats not to try to distance themselves from what Obama had done.
“But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent,” Biden said. “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. And this is what I believe: I believe that President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence. I’m proud to have played a part in that. This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. The American people have worked too hard and we’ve come too far for that. Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record.”
Biden touched on the need for campaign-finance reform, free college education, tax reform, LGBT rights, immigration reform, equal pay for women and called for an end to “the divisive partisan politics that’s ripping this country apart.”
“It’s mean-spirited. It’s petty. It’s gone on for much too long,” Biden said. “I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemy. They are our opposition. … For the sake of the country, we have to work together. … Four more years of this kind of pitched battle may be more than this country can take.”
Biden also seemed to suggest that the U.S. should take a less aggressive stand on foreign policy.
“I believe we need to lead by example, as our president has, than by the example of our power. We’ve learned some very hard lessons from more than a decade of large-scale open-ended military invasions. We have to accept the fact that we can’t solve all the world’s problems,” he said. “The argument that we just have to do something when bad people do bad things isn’t good enough. It just isn’t a good enough reason for American intervention, to throw our sons and daughters’ lives on the line.”
The vice president said he would spend his remaining 15 months in office working to end cancer.
“If I could do anything I’d want to be the vice president who ended cancer because it’s possible,” he said.
He ended by expressing his optimistic view for the country.
“There’s no country better poised to lead the world in the 21st century than the United States of America,” Biden said. “Washington just has to begin to function again. Instead of being the problem, it has to become part of the solution again. Let’s be one America again. We can do so much more. I’m looking forward to working with [President Obama] to get it done.”
Before he began his speech, Biden was seen talking with Obama in the Oval Office. His sister, Valerie, was among those in the audience to hear his remarks.
With a growing faction of Hollywood politicos jumping on the Biden bandwagon, Clinton industry supporters will be relieved that he is staying out of the race.
If the popular vice president had decided to run, his local supporters were prepared to hold at least two major fundraisers for his candidacy in November, one of them to be hosted by UTA’s Jay Sures, one of Biden’s most vocal entertainment industry advocates.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in September, Sures said that he and other Hollywood politicos believed Biden was the most qualified person to be president.
“Biden is incredible,” Sures said at the time. “He’s a guy who has been in public service for 40-some years, who really understands what the average American is going through. And, coming out of the loss of his son, he has a message of hopefulness.
“There are some people who love Secretary Clinton and think she’s amazing,” he said. “But there is a very large group of people who want there to be a real debate on the Democratic side. At the very least, the two of these people running against each other will make the nominee a better candidate.”
Even so many, Hollywood Dems believed that the vice president faced an uphill battle at this point in the race. Clinton sewed up most of the industry’s leading Democratic donors over a year ago, including Haim Saban, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg. Her strong performance during last week’s Democratic debate further solidified her local support.
“Hillary schooled them all on policy and presence,” Jennifer Gonring, who is partners with veteran Hollywood fundraiser Andy Spahn at Gonring, Spahn & Associates, told THR after the debate. “Hillary stepped forward with passion, poise and a command of the issues that Americans care about. I think she cut through the noise and really connected with people tonight, and that’s what debates — and elections — are really about.”
After Biden’s announcement Wednesday, Spahn said in a statement: “The Vice President’s decision not to run leaves voters with a very clear choice in the Democratic primary, one which I believe will further strengthen Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.”
David Wolf, a DNC Finance Committee member and an early organizer of Hollywood’s Ready for Hillary events, said he was “relieved that the VP chose not to run.”
“Many of us in the donor community felt torn between two leaders we are affectionate for,” Wolf said. “I respect his decision and believe it will be beneficial to the party.”
In a statement, Hillary Clinton praised Biden, saying in part, “I am confident that history isn’t finished with Joe Biden.”
“Joe Biden is a good man and a great Vice President,” Clinton said. “Serving alongside him in the Senate and then the administration, I saw first-hand his passion for our country and our people. Like millions of others, I admire his devotion to family, his grace in grief, his grit and determination on behalf of the middle class and his unyielding faith in America’s promise. As Vice President, Joe has been by President Obama’s side for every pivotal decision. He helped save the auto industry and pull our economy back from the brink of depression. He continues to fight for higher wages, safer communities, and a more peaceful world. It’s a record to be proud of, defend and build on. As he said today, there is more work to do. And if I know Joe, he will always be on the front-lines, always fighting for all of us.”
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