Biden says he will not seek 2016 Democratic nomination

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Biden Will Not Run for President in 2016


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would not run for president in 2016, ending months of indecision and easing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's path to the party's nomination.

Biden, who had been pondering a run since August, appeared in the White House Rose Garden with his wife Jill and President Barack Obama to say the window for mounting a successful campaign had closed.

"While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent," Biden told reporters. "I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation," Biden said.

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Biden, 72, had been wrestling with his own doubts about whether he and his family were ready for a grueling campaign while still mourning his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May. His son had urged him to run.

His decision was a boost for Clinton, whose prime challenger now is U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. A self-styled democratic socialist, Sanders has galvanized the party's left wing but has yet to prove he can broaden his appeal.

"It's an easier path for Hillary Clinton now," said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson. "Most polls reflect that without Biden in the race, it's more beneficial to her."

His decision also ends a highly public, months-long "will he or won't he?" political guessing game about Biden's intentions which had shadowed Clinton's campaign and frozen the support of Democratic activists and donors.

"It solidifies and crystallizes the race. There will be no late entries. There will be no more what ifs," said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau.

Click through to see images from Biden's announcement:

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Joe Biden announces he's not running for president
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Biden says he will not seek 2016 Democratic nomination
President Barack Obama watches as Vice President Joe Biden turns to his wife Dr. Jill Biden after announcing that he will not run for the presidential nomination, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Vice President Joe Biden, with his wife Dr. Jill Biden, and President Barack Obama walks toward the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, to announce that Biden will not run for the presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Vice President Joe Biden, with his wife Dr. Jill Biden, right, and President Barack Obama announces that he will not run for the presidential nomination, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US Vice President Joe Biden (C), flanked by US President Barack Obama (L) and his wife Jill Biden (R), speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe Biden (R), flanked by US President Barack Obama (L), speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) looks on as US Vice President Joe Biden (R) speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe Biden (C), flanked by US President Barack Obama (L) and his wife Jill Biden (R), speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jill Biden (R) looks on as her husband US Vice President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe Biden (R), flanked by US President Barack Obama (L) speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on October 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. Biden announced that he is not running for president. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama places a hand on Vice President Joe Biden's back as they and Dr. Jill Biden leave the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, where Biden announced he will not run for the presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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'OUT OF TIME'

Jumping into the race so late would have been a huge challenge to Biden, who would have had to quickly build a fundraising network and campaign structure ahead of the first nominating contest in Iowa on Feb. 1.

"Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination," Biden said in the Rose Garden. "The process doesn't respect or much care about filing deadlines or debate or primaries and caucuses. But I also know I couldn't do this if the family isn't ready."

Biden, who is popular with white, working-class voters, could still play a major role and become a valuable surrogate for Democrats against the Republican nominee in the general election campaign. He urged Democrats to defend and run on Obama's record.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said on Twitter that he preferred to run against Clinton anyway because "her record is so bad."

Also in the running for the Democratic nomination are former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy," Biden said.

In a statement, Clinton called Biden "a good man and a great vice president" and said she was confident he would continue to be on the political front lines "fighting for all of us."

The door to a late bid by the affable Biden had cracked open over perceptions, fueled by controversy over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, that Clinton was both failing to connect with voters and untrustworthy.

But what was widely hailed as a command performance by Clinton in the Oct. 13 Democratic debate turned the tide back in her favor and quieted talk that she was vulnerable in her quest for her party's nomination for the November 2016 election.

Click to see Joe Biden's 2016 presidential candidate profile

SUPPORT UP FOR CLINTON

Clinton's support among Democrats surged by 10 percentage points after the October debate, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. She had the backing of about 52 percent of poll participants, followed by Sanders at 27 percent. Biden's support, at 13 percent, was down 6 percentage points.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Biden made his decision not to run last night.

A separate official, White House spokesman Eric Schultz, said Obama had served as a "sounding board" for Biden during the process. "That's not just as he copes with unspeakable loss, but also as he makes very personal decisions about his political future," Schultz, traveling with Obama, told reporters on Air Force One after Biden spoke.

Biden had run for president in 1988 and 2008, both times failing to gain traction despite more than three decades as a U.S. senator from Delaware.

He has been prominent for a vice president, with broad involvement in many of Obama's foreign affairs decisions, such as the withdrawal from Iraq and his Afghanistan strategy.

He also became something of a secret weapon for the White House on Capitol Hill, stepping in to negotiate tricky fiscal deals with Republican lawmakers.

Click through to see more of Biden as he mulled over a presidential run:

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Joe Biden as he mulls over a presidential run
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Biden says he will not seek 2016 Democratic nomination
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a White House Champions of Change Law Enforcement and Youth meeting, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. CNN said Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, it will allow Biden to participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debate even if he decides that day to be a candidate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Solar Power International Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Taking aim at his potential political opponents, Biden railed against Republicans who "deny climate change" and want to shut down the federal government over funding for Planned Parenthood, and pleaded with them to "just get out of the way." (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Stephen talks with Vice President Joe Biden, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept 10, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a labor rally in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets some of the crowd as he walks in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, a crowd gathers, many wearing union shirts, in front of Vice President Joe Biden as he speaks before joining in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. Hearing chants of "run Joe, run," Biden marched in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade on Monday as speculation swirled about a potential late entry into the Democratic presidential campaign. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Vice President Joe Biden puts on a United Steelworkers hat before he spoke to a crowd before he joined in the annual Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
In this Sept. 4, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, right, stands in the Oval Office of the White House during a meeting between President Barack Obama and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Washington. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Vice President Joe Biden discusses the Iran nuclear deal with Jewish community leaders at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Fla. on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Biden sought to allay concerns of South Florida Jewish leaders who fear Iran won too many concessions in the agreement, which seeks to curb the country's nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
FILE - In this July 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Advanced Manufacturing Center at Community College of Denver. Although Biden is considering whether to enter the presidential race, he skipped this week’s Democratic National Committee summer meeting. Doing so created an opening for front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to consolidate her party’s support. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
FILE - In this May 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks to the media during a meeting between President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Although Biden has yet to make a decision on a run for the presidency, his advisers say the discussions taking form in the last several weeks are serious enough that the vice president and his associates have started gaming out mechanics like fundraising, ballot deadlines and an early primary state strategy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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