Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he was bowing out of the 2016 presidential race. The move firms Hillary Rodham Clinton’s standing as the Democratic front-runner.
Expressing the sorrow following the death of his son, Beau, Biden said that the window of his campaign “has closed.” He made the announcement in the White House Rose Garden, with his wife, Jill, and President Barack Obama standing at his side.
Biden also criticized Clinton for the remarks she made in last week’s CNN Democratic debate about how Republicans were her enemies. “I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart, and I think we can,” Biden said. “It’s mean-spirited, it’s petty, and it’s gone on for much too long. I don’t believe, like some do, that it’s naive to talk to Republicans. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They’re not our enemies.” He further said, “For the sake of the country, we have to work together.”
According to the Associated Press, the Democratic race is now a contest between Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders doesn’t have a campaign infrastructure like Clinton’s or the support from the party leaders. In a written statement, Clinton lauded Biden’s “unyielding faith in America’s promise” and said that he would “always be on the front lines, always fighting for all of us.”
Democratic voters, leaders and elites have not shown much support towards Biden’s campaign, although a sitting vice president can be considered a natural heir to Obama, as reported by Vox. Sanders has received more support by progressive activists, and the party’s mainstream has encouraged Clinton. Moreover, Biden’s performance in the polls hasn’t been impressive. According to the HuffPost Pollster, he is behind Clinton by 30 points nationally and in Iowa, and by 20 points in New Hampshire.
Clinton praised the vice president, tweeting that he is “a good friend and a great man. Today and always, inspired by his optimism and commitment to change the world for the better.” Giving it a personal touch, signifying that the message was composed by her and not her campaign aide, she signed the tweet “—H.” In a statement, Sanders said that Biden’s decision to opt out is one that he feels “is best for himself, his family and the country. I thank the vice president for a lifetime of public service and for all that he has done for our nation.”
Biden’s political career has covered 40 years, but has been textured with tragedy. Following winning his Delaware Senate seat in 1972, his wife and daughter met with a car crash and passed away. Biden’s son, an Iraq War veteran and who before his death asked that his father make a third run at the presidency, died in May 2015.