By John Celock
After several months of speculation, Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination next year.
While the year had started with the presumption that Biden would not seek the White House next year, speculation increased over the summer – and after the death of Biden’s son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden – that the vice president would enter the Democratic race. The speculation increased in recent weeks with reports that Biden was consulting with advisors and his family and seeking out staff for a presidential run.
Biden said during a Rose Garden speech Wednesday that he and his family had decided that the time period to enter the presidential race was not conducive to him entering the race. Biden was joined by his wife, Jill, and President Barack Obama during the speech. Biden’s decision leaves the Democratic field set at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee.
During his speech, Biden did outline a vision for America that sounded like a platform for a presidential campaign which was not occurring. This included talking about a need to focus on the middle class, job creation and continuing health care reform. Much of Biden’s focus was on the issues he has promoted as vice president and during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. Biden said that the Democratic field and the country need to continue the Obama legacy.
Biden’s announcement concludes a career that began as a young elected official in county government in Delaware and led to the vice presidency. Biden launched his political career at the age of 26 in 1969 with his election to the New Castle County Council.
In 1972, the then 29-year-old Biden launched a long shot bid to unseat U.S. Sen. J. Caleb Boggs (R-Del.). Boggs, then a second term senator, was a former Delaware governor and congressman who was considered an easy victor for a third term over the little known Biden. Biden managed a narrow upset victory, winning a Senate seat even though he was several weeks shy of the constitutionally mandated age of 30.
Biden’s Senate career was almost over before it started when he contemplated resigning following the death of his wife and young daughter in a car accident, which also severely injured his two sons. Biden was sworn-in at his sons’ bedside and started a practice of commuting daily between Wilmington and Washington.
During his Senate career Biden focused on crime and foreign policy issues, chairing both the judiciary and foreign relations committees during his term. He dropped a bid for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination following plagerism charges and then faced his own health issues. He came up short in a bid for the 2008 presidential nomination, a race dominated by Obama and Clinton.
Biden selection as vice president was seen as a way of providing a foreign policy expert and long time senator to Obama’s ticket. As vice president, Biden has filled in as Obama’s fixer on Capitol Hill, along with focusing on economic issues and foreign policy.