Vice President Joe Biden joked with reporters Tuesday morning that he would be announcing his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election "tomorrow.” Moments later, he told a different group of reporters he’s “going to announce right now.”
Whether Biden, who will be almost 78 in 2020, has been half-kidding or half-serious about mounting another White House bid is uncertain. But one thing is clear — he is greatly adored by his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, and they want him to remain a leading figure in the party over the next four years.
“I doubt that there is any member of the caucus that would say if you’re making alist of the top three people he’s just about at the top of that list," said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
Biden traveled to Capitol Hill Tuesday as part of his goodbye tour and boosted the spirits of House Democrats who are struggling with their purpose serving at least two more years in a Congressional minority under a Republican President Donald Trump.
“It was mostly … a love fest,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who also said Biden was reflective and endearing.
And Rep. Linda Sanchez of California said that the session was “so Joe," describing it as authentic, "heart-felt" and uplifting.
Biden was more than 30 minutes late to the meeting but still stayed for more than an hour, saying he wanted to continue to help Democrats — and working people — over the next four years under a Trump administration.
Multiple members and staff in attendance said there was no discussion of the 2020 presidential race but that Rep. Jackie Speier of California asked Biden if he would run the Democratic National Committee. He demurred and said that there were great candidates already running, according to a source in the room. One of the front-runners for that post is a member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
Biden’s appearance on Capitol Hill was day two of his symbolic and celebratory return to the U.S. Capitol, his old stomping grounds. He was present Monday for a Senate vote on the CURES Act, a bill that includes funding for his cancer "moonshot" initiative. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday night that they've named that portion of the legislation after Biden's son, Beau, who died last year of cancer.
During a visit to the Senate Monday, he told reporters that “he’s not committing not to run,” escalating speculation of a presidential bid.
“I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committed to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening,” Biden said.
He will be back at the Capitol Wednesday, where he’ll be honored for a career that includes 36 yeas as a senator representing Delaware and eight years as head of the Senate in his role as vice president.
Finally, he’ll be back on this end of Pennsylvania Avenue Thursday to honor retiring Sen. Reid.