By launching a campaign for the Democrat nomination for president in 2020 last week, former Vice President Joe Biden has broken a pledge he made in 2015 in a 60 Minutes interview that he would never run for political office ever again.
Asked by CBS correspondent Norah O’Donnell in the interview if he would ever run for office again, Biden said he would not.
“Will you ever run for political office again?” O’Donnell asked Biden.
No. No,” Biden replied emphatically. “I can do so much more, I believe. I hope I leave office in– as a respected figure who can convene people and bring people together. And I just think the president and I talked about what we do together. What we each want to do out of office–”
Critics of Biden have found the old clip from just a few years ago and begun recirculating it online:
In 2015, Biden said he would never run for political office again. pic.twitter.com/boME4w41p3
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) April 30, 2019
In October 2015, former Vice President Joe Biden told CBS News’ Norah O'Donnell that he would never run for political office again during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
This statement from Biden did not hold up. pic.twitter.com/pdv4Q494FW
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 30, 2019
The 60 Minutes interview from which this clip comes is the one Biden did alongside his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, when he made the determination not to run for president in 2016 and deferred to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After a contentious primary in 2016 with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton eventually wrapped up the nomination, then went on to lose the general election to now-President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Sanders is running again in 2020, and Biden has–as of last week, when he announced his campaign–violated his pledge to jump into the race seeking the Democrat nomination and a chance to take on Trump.
Biden’s son Beau Biden passed away in the lead-up to the 2016 election, leading to Biden’s decision against running last time around. Beau Biden had apparently been pushing his father to run in 2016 before he died, but Biden decided against running in the wake of his son’s passing. But the former Vice President, then still in office during this interview, said that there was not some iconic “Hollywood-esque” moment in which his son pushed him to run with his last breaths.
Biden said in response to O’Donnell asking him about Beau telling him to run:
Well, first thing I’d like to do, and you’re being very polite the way you’re asking me the question, because some people have written that, you know, Beau on his death bed said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to run,’ and, there was this sort of Hollywood moment that, you know, nothing like that ever, ever happened. Beau from the time he was in his 30s — or actually his late 20s — was my, he and Hunter were one of my two most reliable advisers. And, Beau all along thought that I should run and I could win. But there was not what was sort of made out as kind of this Hollywood-esque thing that at the last minute Beau grabbed my hand and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to run, like, win one for the Gipper.’ It wasn’t anything like that.
In the interview, O’Donnell asked Biden about his conversations with then-President Barack Obama as well, including a photo in which the two of them stood together in the Oval Office moments before Biden headed out to the Rose Garden to announce publicly his decision not to run in 2016. Biden said:
Well, I called the president early in the morning and he was in the gym working out. And he took my call and I said, ‘Mr. President,’ I said, ‘We decided. I’m not going to run.’ And he knew how close it was, what was going on. And I said, ‘I’m going to go out and announce it this morning or early afternoon.’ He said, ‘Joe, I’ll be proud to stand with you.’
Biden also said that Obama did not pressure him into not running to clear the way for Clinton–that it was his decision. “The president wanted me to do what I thought was best,” Biden said.
It was never a given that Biden would not run in 2016, or that Clinton would definitely be the Democrat nominee. In fact, Trump himself–the man who would become the GOP nominee for president nearly a year later–in an August 2015 exclusive interview with Breitbart News in his Trump Tower office actually predicted that Clinton may not be the nominee and he would potentially face Biden in the general election, saying, “I think so” when asked if he envisioned a potential face-off with Biden more than a year later in November 2016.
“I think Hillary has got huge problems right now,” Trump told Breitbart News then. “Is she going to make it? I hear this thing is big league. Why did she do it? You use the server? Because they’re always looking to go over the edge, whether it’s Whitewater or anything else. They always want to go over the edge. I’m just looking at it saying what the hell was she doing? You know what she was doing. She was guarding from the president seeing what she doing.”
Of course, that is not what ended up happening: Biden bowed out just a few months later, Clinton powered through the primary, won her party’s nomination, and then lost to Trump in November 2016.