Vice President Joe Biden might not be ready to leave behind his West Wing ambitions.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Mr. Biden made a seemingly light-hearted bid for the presidency, but then backed the possibility up with a more serious response.
“I’m going to run in 2020,” he said. “For president. So, uh, what the hell, man.”
When asked whether or not he was joking, he gave a more earnest, yet ambiguous, response, but one that still leaves that door to the Oval Office open.
"I'm not committing not to run," he said. "I'm not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening."
Biden has run two unsuccessful presidential campaigns: one in 2008, and another in 1988. After several months of mulling a 2016 run, he declined to seek the office, saying he and his family needed time to grieve the passing of his son, Beau Biden, who died last year following a battle with cancer.
"As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along what I've said time and again to others, that it may very well be that the process by the time we get through it closes the window," Biden said during a press conference last year. "I've concluded it has closed."
But Biden has remained a prominent figure in the Democratic Party, campaigning on behalf of 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Some have even floated his name as a possible contender to chair the Democratic National Committee, saying his popularity, charisma, and ability to connect and appeal to large swathes of voters could make him a viable candidate.
“You need someone who can bring together the different elements of the party. There’s a white working class, there are also people of color, women, people who care more about social issues, people who care about foreign policy,” Hans Noel, a political science professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., previously told The Christian Science Monitor. “The nice thing about Joe Biden is that by having been in the Obama administration, he is someone who is connected to the establishment. But at the same time, he’s viewed as one of the choices voters might’ve preferred to Clinton and has led on a handful of issues.”
Still, some say Biden's opportunity to seek the presidency has passed. At 74, he’d reach his 78th birthday just before taking office in 2021, making him the oldest person to serve as president. Former President Ronald Reagan, the oldest serving president, left the office just shy of 77.
On Monday evening, Biden returned to the Senate, where he served for 36 years as a Delaware senator and another eight as vice president, to preside over a vote on a $1.8 medical research bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky added a last-minute amendment that passed unopposed: to name the bill after Biden’s son, Beau.
“He’s known the cruel toll this disease can take, but he hasn’t let it defeat him,” Mr. McConnell said. “He’s chosen to fight back.”
This report contains material from the Associated Press.