Joe Biden says he didn’t run against Hillary Clinton in 2016 because ‘she’s my friend’

May 14, 2019

Joe Biden says he didn’t run against Hillary Clinton in 2016 because ‘she’s my friend’ Marc Nozell / CCL

Former Vice President Joe Biden has given every reason under the sun for not running for president in 2016: misgivings about his advanced age, the strain that another campaign would put on his family, and — perhaps most understandably — that he needed more time to mourn for his recently deceased son.

Now, however, Biden is offering an unexpected excuse for putting aside his presidential aspirations in 2016. While campaigning in New Hampshire, the 76-year-old told supporters that he bowed out from the 2016 election because he didn’t want to run against his “friend,” Hillary Clinton.

“She’s my friend”

“I announced that I wasn’t going to run for the president last time — and I wasn’t going to run against Hillary; she’s my friend,” Biden said at a campaign event at a local pizza parlor.

Biden said he was considering a bid for the White House even before Clinton announced her campaign, but his son Beau’s cancer kept him on the fence during the early stages of the campaign season.

“I had planned on running before, and I put together an organization, but my son Beau made me promise. … I promised him that I would not tell anybody how sick he was,” Biden said.

After Beau’s untimely death in 2015, Biden found himself benefiting from a “surge of goodwill,” according to the New Yorker, and he even went so far as to draft an inaugural campaign speech. However, political analyst David Plouffe was certain that Biden would finish the Iowa primary in third place, and he convinced the former Delaware senator that he had missed his chance.

“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along … It may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president, that it might close,” Biden said at the time. “I’ve concluded that it has closed.”

Ultimately, Biden endorsed Clinton, another center-left establishment Democrat. Speaking at a New Hampshire pizza parlor on Monday, Biden reminded his supporters that he campaigned on behalf of the 2016 presidential runner-up 83 times.

Here is Biden in June 2016, throwing his political weight behind Clinton for the first time at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania:

Same old song and dance

But whether it was Biden’s relationship with Clinton, or the late start precipitated by his son’s death that kept him off of the campaign trail in 2016, the former vice president is certainly modeling his campaign off of Clinton’s. So far, the Democratic frontrunner appears to be emulating Clinton’s failed strategy against Donald Trump by claiming to represent all Americans.

“This is not who we are, the way we are treating people,” Biden said in his first interview since announcing his candidacy. “There is an American creed. It’s about decency, honor, including everyone, leaving no one behind.”

Those remarks could have been lifted straight from Clinton’s 2016 political playbook. “I want to be a president for all Americans, not some Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents, every single American,” she said during her doomed campaign, repeating a familiar refrain. “I want to be the president for those who vote for me and those who vote against me because I want to bring our country together.”

Of course, Clinton made the mistake of showing her true colors by placing half of Trump’s supporters in a “basket of deplorables” during a particularly infamous campaign speech. She called millions of American conservatives “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it.”

It remains to be seen if Biden can resist the same urge to trash Trump’s base. But at present, even CNN’s left-wing editor-at-large Chris Cillizza is thoroughly unimpressed, calling Biden’s unimaginative campaign “eerily familiar” to Clinton’s soulless power grab three years earlier.

So far, Biden is recycling the same old song and dance that failed to put Clinton in the Oval Office in 2016. In the White House, President Donald Trump is rejoicing.

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.