Joe Biden says he will not run for president

EMBED </>More Videos

Joe Biden announced Wednesday his decision not to run for president. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Vice President Joe Biden will not run for president in 2016, he said Wednesday, ending a months-long flirtation with a third White House campaign and setting him on a glide path toward the end of his decades-long political career.

"Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time," Biden said.

Biden, who lost his son, former Delaware Attorney Beau Biden, in May to brain cancer, was joined by his wife Jill and President Barack Obama.

"As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along what I've said time and again to others, that it may very well be that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president, that it might close. I've concluded that it has closed," Biden said in an afternoon press conference in the Rose Garden.

Speculation had been brewing for months about whether the Vice President would make a run for the presidency. Biden was tight-lipped on the subject.

Last week, during the first Democratic debate between hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, there were rumors Biden would show up.

The debate hosts went so far as to set aside an extra podium for the VP.

He did not show up.

A few weeks ago, Biden attended his granddaughter's cross-country meet in Wilmington.

Biden was trailed by at least one reporter who asked that very question, but, not surprisingly, he didn't get much of an answer.

When questioned again by an onlooker, Biden simply said, "I'm eating a pretzel", and took a bite.

For months, the 72-year-old Democrat made front pages and appeared on cable news screens as pundits mused about his prospects and Clinton's perceived vulnerability.

A super political action committee, Draft Biden, formed with the explicit goal of getting him into the race.

At the White House, aides and longtime Biden loyalists had prepared for his potential bid, putting together a campaign-in-waiting ready to move fast should he decide to jump into the race.

Last week one of those aides, former Sen. Ted Kaufman, wrote an email to former Biden staffers laying out the potential rationale for a Biden run and promising a decision soon.

Biden and his team had lined up potential staff and enlisted donors willing to help; Biden spoke personally to many supporters.

As speculation about his plans reached a fever pitch, Biden kept up an intense schedule of public appearances, seemingly testing his own stamina for an exhausting presidential campaign.

But as speculation swirled, Biden broadcast his reluctance to run amid doubts that he and his family were emotionally ready in the wake of Beau Biden's death.

During a late night interview in September, Biden described himself as overwhelmed at times by his son's death and unconvinced he could commit fully to being president.

Asked about his 2016 decision on "The Late Show," Biden said he'd be lying if he said he knew he was prepared to run following Beau's death. He recalled a breakdown of his emotions during a recent visit to a Colorado military base when a well-wisher yelled out the name of his son and referenced his decorated military service in Iraq.

"All of a sudden, I lost it," Biden said. "How could you - that's not - I shouldn't be saying this: You can't do that."

He said White House hopefuls must be able to promise voters they can commit their whole heart, soul, energy and passion, and said, "I'd be lying if I said that I knew I was there.

"Nobody has a right, in my view, to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent of who they are. And I am, as I said, I'm optimistic, I'm positive about where we're going," Biden told Colbert. "But I find myself - you understand it - sometimes it just overwhelms you."

Biden would have faced substantial logistically challenges in deciding to mount a campaign this late in the primary process.

Both Clinton and Sanders have been in the race since April - giving them a powerful head start in fundraising, volunteers, endorsements and voter outreach.

Democratic operatives and donors already committed to Clinton would likely have had to defect to Biden in order for him to have viable shot at the nomination.

Having decided against a final presidential campaign, Biden now approaches the end of his long career in politics.

A month after being elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29, Biden's wife and baby daughter died when their car collided with a tractor-trailer. Biden considered relinquishing his seat, but instead was sworn in at the hospital where his sons, Beau and Hunter, were recovering.

President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015.

During six terms in the Senate, he rose in the ranks to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, developing broad expertise in global affairs and reputation for a plainspoken, unpredictable approach to politics.

Biden twice ran for president. His most recent attempt in 2008 ended after he garnered less than 1 percent in the Iowa caucuses. His first run in 1987 ended even quicker, following allegations he plagiarized in some speeches from a British politician.

He has not yet detailed his post-White House plans, but has told friends he has no plans to "retire" in a traditional sense. Although unlikely to again seek elected office, friends and aides say Biden has previously discussed starting a foundation, launching an institute at the University of Delaware or taking on a role as a special envoy and elder statesman if called upon by future presidents.

Biden is not the only politician who made an announcement this week.

On Tuesday, Jim Webb announced he is "stepping aside" from the Democratic presidential race, leaving the door open to an independent bid for the White House.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
politicsu.s. & worldjoe bidenvice president joe biden2016 electionpresidential race
(Copyright ©2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)