US vice president Joe Biden ended a months-long flirtation with a third White House campaign by announcing he will not run for president in 2016.
Biden’s decision finalised the Democratic field of White House candidates and likely bolsters Hillary Clinton’s standing as the front-runner.
Biden announced his decision in the Rose Garden, flanked by President Barack Obama.
Encouraged by Democrats seeking an alternative to Clinton, Biden spent the past several months deeply engaged in discussions with his family and political advisers about entering the primary.
Yet as the deliberations dragged on, Democrats began publicly questioning whether it was too late for him to run, a notion that hardened after Clinton’s strong performance in last week’s Democratic debate.
In the end, Biden decided the timing was too late. He also was still grieving over the death of his son, former Delaware Attorney Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in May.
The announcement was a letdown for Biden supporters who had pleaded with him to run.
For months, the 72-year-old Democrat made front pages and appeared on cable news screens as pundits mused about his prospects and Clinton’s perceived vulnerability.
A super political action committee, Draft Biden, formed with the explicit goal of getting him into the race.
At the White House, aides and longtime Biden loyalists had prepared for his potential bid, putting together a campaign-in-waiting ready to move fast should he decide to jump into the race.
Biden and his team had lined up potential staff and enlisted donors willing to help; Biden spoke personally to many supporters.
Biden would have faced substantial logistically challenges in deciding to mount a campaign this late in the primary process.
Democratic operatives and donors already committed to Clinton would likely have had to defect to Biden in order for him to have viable shot at the nomination.
Having decided against a final presidential campaign, Biden now approaches the end of his long career.
A month after being elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29, Biden’s wife and baby daughter died when their car collided with a tractor-trailer. Biden considered relinquishing his seat, but instead was sworn in at the hospital where his sons, Beau and Hunter, were recovering.
Over six terms in the Senate, he rose in the ranks to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, developing broad expertise in global affairs and reputation for a plainspoken, unpredictable approach to politics.
Biden twice ran for president. His most recent attempt in 2008 ended after he garnered less than 1% in the Iowa caucuses.
His first run in 1987 ended even quicker, following allegations he plagiarised in some speeches from a British politician.
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