Joe Biden is denying reports that he would serve only one term if elected in 2020, but a top Delaware ally is implying otherwise.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that the 77-year-old Biden has intimated to family members and staff he is likely not to seek reelection if successful in ousting Trump next year. According to several senior staffers, the former vice president sees himself as someone who can serve as bridge between the Trump era and the next generation of Democrat leadership.
“This makes Biden a good transition figure,” one Biden adviser said. “I’d love to have an election this year for the next generation of leaders, but if I have to wait four years [in order to] to get rid of Trump, I’m willing to do it.”
The former vice president’s campaign initially refused to comment after the news broke. It was only after several high profile figures began to question the acumen of making oneself a lame duck even before winning the nomination, yet alone the general election, that Biden’s campaign was compelled to speak up.
“Lots of chatter out there on this so just want to be crystal clear,” Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield wrote on social media in response to the article, “this is not a conversation our campaign is having and not something [former Vice President] Biden is thinking about.
The campaign’s assertion, however, was quickly undercut by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), a top ally of the former vice president. Coons, who holds the U.S. Senate seat that Biden occupied for nearly four decades, told CNN he had been assured by the former vice president, himself, he would “serve two terms if necessary.”
Joe Biden told Senator Coons he would “serve two terms if necessary,” the Democrat from Delaware told reporters this morning in response to a @politico report that Biden signaled to aides he would only serve one term
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) December 11, 2019
Although Coons was trying to dismiss talk of a one-term pledge, Biden’s caveat of “if necessary” seemed to imply for many the opposite. The “if necessary” caveat mirrors what another Biden adviser told Politico on Tuesday, mainly that the former vice president would weigh a reelection bid depending on the capabilities of his potential ticket mate.
“He’s going into this thinking, ‘I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years, but if that’s not possible or doesn’t happen, then I’ll run for reelection,’” the adviser said. “But he’s not going to publicly make a one term pledge.”
Complicating matters is that Biden recently refused to rule out the possibility of serving a single term if elected. During an interview with the Associated Press in October, Biden not only claimed age was an important factor for presidential hopefuls, but admitted he was not necessarily committed to eight years in the White House.
Biden, who would be the oldest person ever inaugurated president if elected, said:
Right now it’s a legitimate question to ask, just like it was legitimate to ask me when I was 29 years old running for the Senate, did I have enough judgment to be a senator. Right now, my age has brought with it a significant amount of experience in government and hopefully wisdom and some sound judgment.
“I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you’ll see,” the former vice president added. “It doesn’t mean I would run a second term. I’m not going to make that judgment at this moment.”