Joe Biden Shrugs at Presidential Ambitions, Hits Republicans Over LGBT Stance

by Jordan Frasier /  / Updated 
Image: Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.Jose Luis Magana / AP

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden shrugged at the possibility of his own presidential run while hitting Republican candidates for their positions on LGBT issues in the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner Saturday night.

"The American people are already with you," he said of the national movement toward LGBT equality. "There are homophobes left — most of them are running for president, I think."

While Biden seemed dismissive of his own White House ambitions, the crowd was vocal in their support, with at least one noticeable interruption urging the vice president to make a 2016 run. Biden laughed off shouts that he should run for president.

Biden dedicated the majority of his speech to praise the LGBT community’s work, and offer advice for their future endeavors. The vice president urged the activists to spread the message of workplace discrimination — something he said most Americans don’t realize still exists.

"Look I’m not your staff, but I’m kind of like your staff," he said in giving the advice.

Biden famously said on "Meet the Press" during the 2012 presidential campaign that he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage — speaking out on the issue before President Barack Obama said he supported same-sex marriage.

"I’ve been proud of speaking up, apparently out of turn on 'Meet the Press,'" Biden said Saturday.

And Biden said when people were unhappy with the interview, he told them they are "way out of step" and that the American people were closer to his position.

In a departure from the topic of the evening, Biden spoke out on the need for people to be "free from violence" and urged the crowd to "speak up" on that issue in addition to their traditional advocacy work.

Biden said the work of HRC has benefited not just LGBT people but also their friends and family, by eliminating the stigma of supporting the LGBT community in moves toward equality.

"You left the Supreme Court no choice, no choice what so ever," Biden said of this year’s landmark decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the U.S.

Biden has delayed deciding on a White House run since the end of summer, slowed both by the death of his son and by Hillary Clinton’s position in the field. But the vice president is widely expected to announce his intentions by the end of the month.

Speaking before Biden, HRC President Chad Griffin called for activating the LGBT vote in order to elect an equality-minded candidate as opposed to some of the Republican contenders who he called, "wackadoo extremists."

"The good news is we all have a say in what happens next November," Griffin said as a person in the crowd yelled, "Run, Joe, run!"

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton addressed the Human Rights Campaign at a breakfast earlier Saturday and is expected to appear on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

NBC’s Justin Peligri and Monica Alba contributed to this report.