Former Vice President Joe Biden gave a rousing speech at the SALT conference Thursday night, dishing dirt on Hillary Clinton and refusing to rule out a 2020 presidential run for himself.
“I never thought she was a great candidate,” Biden declared of the 2016 Democratic candidate for president, CNN reported. “I thought I was a great candidate.”
In their new book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes revealed President Barack Obama’s impact in convincing Biden not to run for president and just how terrified Clinton’s campaign was of a potential Biden run. It appears the former vice president has started to regret his decision not to run, which could have an impact in 2020 planning.
Despite this declaration, Biden assured his audience that “Hillary would have been a really good president.”
He also emphasized loyalty to Barack Obama, declaring — contrary to reams of evidence — that the first black president served two terms “without a single scandal … not one.”
The former vice president admitted that the previous administration “made mistakes” and that his disagreements with the president even devolved into “shouting matches” at times. But Biden also praised Obama as “absolutely totally competent” and insisted that Obama took the job “extremely seriously,” a veiled attack on President Donald Trump.
Biden initially turned down Obama’s offer to join his campaign, but at the speech Thursday Biden said becoming Obama’s vice president was “the best decision I ever made.”
When asked about running for president in 2020, Biden replied, “Could I? Yes. Would I? Probably not.” He emphasized that his focus is currently on getting his family “put back together” following the 2015 death of his son Beau to brain cancer. Indeed, in Shattered, Allen and Parnes explained how the Biden family was focused on Beau’s career more than Joe’s. The death of his son nearly pushed the vice president into the 2016 race.
But at the speech Thursday, Biden revealed that he needs to fulfill several financial promises to his wife, including paying off their mortgage. If those things are done, and he’s healthy and the best candidate by the time 2020 rolls around, however, “I may very well do it.”
The former vice president even admitted that he’s been approached by people who want him to take the plunge and run to face Trump in 2020. But he has turned them down. “At this point, no one in my family or I have made the judgment to run,” Biden said.
Nevertheless, his speech veered into campaign rhetoric from time to time. “Let’s wake up!” Biden declared. “This is America. We all walk around like, ‘Oh my God. What are we going to do?’ C’mon man!”
The former vice president expressed frustration over the hyperpartisan divide in Washington, D.C. “The public is sick of it. … This fever has to break,” he said. Biden encouraged both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to “argue like hell … but show some respect.”
Calls for respect are rather moot when Democrats are openly considering the political value of impeaching Donald Trump, however. It would be wonderful if liberals would respect the sitting president — and acknowledged that their president had his own share of scandals. Respect is a two-way street, and even Biden needs to show a bit more before his calls for respect can be taken seriously.