Joe Biden's 2020 Comments Are So "Uncle Joe"

by Sunnivie Brydum

With a few short phrases uttered at the U.S. Senate today, Vice President Joe Biden ignited massive speculation about the future of his political career. Biden stopped by the upper chamber of Congress Monday evening to vote on a cancer support bill named after his late son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May 2015. Speaking to a small group of reporters, Biden hinted that he might run for president in 2020, presumably challenging Donald Trump.

There are no cameras allowed inside the Senate, so we don't have video of Biden making the comments. What has emerged, however, is a transcript of his remarks, and audio from NBC News reporter Kelly O'Donnell, who was among the journalists speaking to the vice president. Here's the transcript:

Biden: "I love this place [referring to the Senate]."

Reporter: "Are you ever going to run again?"

Biden: "Yeah, I am. I am going to run in 2020, so, uh."

Reporter: "For what?"

Biden: "For president. And also, what the hell man, anyway."

Kelly O'Donnell: "We're going to run with that [news] sir, if you drop that."

Biden: "That's OK, that's OK. No, but I've enjoyed every minute of my time here in the Senate. It's a great feeling to be back. I love this place."

Reporter circles back: "Just to be clear, are you kidding about running for president in 2020?"

[Biden is silent for four seconds before responding.]

Biden: "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."

O'Donnell spoke with MSNBC's Lawrence Matthews shortly after Biden's exchange with reporters. She offered some context — and the audio — for viewers to make their own determination as to just how seriously Uncle Joe is eyeing the Oval Office. Hear it for yourself:

This isn't the first time Biden has suggested that he might want to seek higher office. The 74-year-old vice president, who served as a senator from Delaware for 36 years before becoming President Barack Obama's right-hand man, was considered a top contender to succeed Obama's historic presidency. But after his son's death last year, Biden delivered an emotional speech in October 2015, saying that the window of opportunity had closed. He spoke candidly about his family's grieving process, and acknowledged that he didn't have the emotional strength to step into the already-heated Democratic primary contest.

In January this year, Biden told an Connecticut NBC affiliate WVIT that he regretted not entering the presidential race. "I regret it every day," Biden told NBC Connecticut's Keisha Grant."But it was the right decision for my family and me."

But with the reality of President-elect Donald Trump setting in, Biden appears to be reconsidering his hesitation. If elected in 2020, the lifelong public servant would be 78 years old, making him the oldest person to ever assume the Oval Office, trumping Trump's age of 70 as of Inauguration Day. While Biden's comments today are far from a guarantee that he will throw his hat into the presidential ring, those of us who are wary about the incoming Trump administration can use the slim hope of a someday-President Biden to help hold us over. And for what it's worth, bringing Biden back to the White House would very likely help spark a renaissance era of "Uncle Joe" memes.