Former Vice President Joe Biden is fueling more 2020 speculation, claiming that he is “the most qualified person in the country to be president” and teasing that an announcement about his candidacy could come within six weeks.
Biden has been flirting with another presidential run after deciding not to seek the highest office in 2016, a decision he has said he regrets every day. But his remarks Monday evening at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he was promoting his book “Promise Me, Dad,” suggested the wheels of a White House bid may already be in motion.
“I’ll be as straight with you as I can. I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” Biden said, according to CNN. “I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and the issues that are the most consequential relating to the plight of the middle class and our foreign policy are things that I have — even my critics would acknowledge, I may not be right, but I know a great deal about it.”
Biden has openly sparred with President Donald Trump over the past two years, trading barbs with the commander in chief and casting himself as a foil to what he sees as a democracy-eroding force in the West Wing. But Biden also admitted he had some vulnerabilities, including his age and his co-sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill.
“I am a gaffe machine, but my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth,” he said. “I’m ready to litigate all those things. The question is, what kind of nation are we becoming? What are we going to do? Who are we?”
Democratic strategists say he would also be forced to confront his mishandling of the 1991 Anita Hill hearings involving sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, when Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“It’s not going to be something he can charm out of. I think in 2018, you can’t just smile it away,” Toi Hutchinson, an Illinois state senator who launched a #MeToo awareness effort in the state, said earlier this year.
Biden’s simpatico bonds with the Democratic Party and his appeal to white working-class voters in the Midwest appear to be his clearest advantages in navigating what is shaping up to be one of the most crowded primary fields on the left. But Biden said his family would be the deciding factor.
“I have two young grandchildren my son left who love me and adore me and want me around. I want to be there to take care of them, so we’ve got to figure out whether or not this is something we can all do as a family,” he said. “We’re going to make that decision in the next six weeks to two months.”