Joseph Robinette Biden stepped away from a third run for the White House on Wednesday, acknowledging the vice presidency will be as close as he gets to sitting in the Oval Office.
Biden, who announced his decision with President Barack Obama and his wife, Jill, at his side, ended months of speculation that the vice president would heed the deathbed plea of his son, Beau, and run for the presidency amid concerns that the controversy over front runner Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server could become a serious political liability.
Talk that Biden would run ramped up over the summer when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Biden’s son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in May, had in his final days, urged his father to run for the White House, adding poignancy to his deliberations.
It reached a fever pitch in recent days when it appeared that Biden was criticizing Clinton while cementing his relationship with President Barack Obama, subtly criticizing Clinton for offering at last week's Democratic debate that she was proud to have Republicans as enemies and touting his expanded portfolio as a modern-day vice president.
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Biden’s candidacy was championed for months by an outside group, Draft Biden, which argued that the former Delaware senator’s “average Joe” personality and political history would make him a stronger candidate than Clinton.
Biden, though, would have started at a distinct disadvantage: no campaign staff, no campaign structure in early voting states and no fundraising dollars like Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders have amassed.
Biden also faced looming questions about his candidacy with both he and Clinton appealing to the same Democratic party constituency.
And he would have faced questions about his age. Biden will be 73 in 2016 and would celebrate his 74th birthday two weeks after the election. That’s older than Ronald Reagan, who at 73 was the oldest president ever to be sworn in when he took office for a second term in 1985.