Biden on 2020: If I Can 'Happily' Walk Away, I Will 'for Real'

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event for Hillary Clinton on Sept. 1, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Former Vice President Joe Biden indicated he's flirting with the idea of running for president in 2020, while stressing "we've got a lot of talented people in the Democratic Party, and I'm looking for some of these guys to come along" instead.

"Barack, the president, asked me all during the end of the last administration, you know, how do you make the judgment? If I can look in the mirror in 2 1/2, two years, and walk away knowing I'm not walking away because I'm afraid or I don't have the nerve to try to do the job or I don't want to make the effort, then I'll happily walk away for real. And there's a lot of new folks potentially coming up here," Biden told CNN in an interview aired Tuesday.

"You know, we didn't know who Bill Clinton was three years out. We didn't know who Barack Obama was other than that tremendous speech he made. And they stepped up. They stepped up," he added. "And so, -- but I know one thing. We have to reclaim the essence of who we are as a country. We have to just get rid of this dangerous and, in terms of our security, dangerous notion of nationalism, and we've got to get rid of this phony populism that just is creating space for people to grab power."

Biden is currently 75 years old; President Trump is 71. The former VP just published a memoir about his late son, Beau: "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose."

To win, he said, the Democratic Party has to meet the challenge "to step up and offer concrete answers, which we're doing."

"For example, when we talk about, you know, the plight of the working class, well, you know, one of the plights is the cost of education, the cost of daycare, the cost of being able to care for your kid," he added. "...If you just eliminated one that cost $17 billion, I could put every single qualified kid in America who qualifies into community college for free, for free. Cutting the cost of four-year college in half, it would cost $6 billion a year and I can reduce the deficit by $11 billion."

Biden rejected the idea that he's too centrist in a party that's moving to the left.

"I don't think you have to choose between your heart and your soul. If you go back and look at my record of 36 years in the Senate, I was rated one of the most liberal senators in the United States Senate during that 36-year period. I'm the guy that spoke out on same-sex marriage and a whole range of other things. I take a back seat to no one on being progressive," he said. "I found no distinction between being able to be progressive and worrying about working-class people, middle-class people. They are not inconsistent."