Joe Biden Opens Up: "I Have A Regret That I Am Not President"

by Lani Seelinger
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A year after the country woke up to the reality that Donald Trump would become the next president, former Vice President Joe Biden gave a heartfelt and in-depth interview with Oprah Winfrey that will air on her OWN Network on Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. ET/PT. Reflecting on last year's election, Biden told Winfrey he regretted not being president, but believes his decision to stay out of the race was the right one.

"I have a regret that I am not president because I think that there is so much opportunity," Biden told Winfrey in the interview. "I think America is so incredibly well-positioned." Speaking on his decision not to run, however, he said, "I don't regret the decision I made because it was the right decision for my family."

After much speculation and discussion, Biden decided not to run for president in fall 2015, because it was still too soon after the loss of his beloved son Beau, who died of brain cancer at age 46. Although Beau had made him promise to run in 2016, it was simply too much to ask. At the time, Biden said in an announcement to the DNC that he simply couldn't commit to it fully:

If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul. And right now, both are pretty well banged up.

In this latest interview, Biden is standing by the sentiments he expressed when he made his decision two years ago, saying that anyone deciding whether or not to run for the nation's highest office needed to be able to answer two questions positively.

One: Do they truly believe they are the most qualified person for that moment? I believed I was. But, was I prepared to be able to give my whole heart, my whole soul and all my attention to the endeavor? I knew I wasn't.

In talking about his regrets, though, Biden made a very particular choice of words in saying that he regrets "that [he is] not president." This implies, as he's expressed in other, earlier interviews, that he truly believes that he would have won the election.

"Honest to God, I thought that I was the best suited for the moment to be president," Biden said in an interview with Vanity Fair. And now, Biden's fans and detractors are left wondering what this series of interviews means for Biden's — and the Democratic Party's — future.

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Biden has dropped numerous hints that a presidential run in 2020 isn't off the table, for example telling InStyle magazine that "three and a half years is two lifetimes in presidential politics," but not giving an outright no. In the aforementioned interview with Vanity Fair, Biden said, "I haven't decided to run, but I've decided I'm not going to decide not to run. We'll see what happens."

He's also been a frequent critic of President Trump, both explicitly and implicitly. Good leaders, he told Winfrey, are those who can comprehend their own strengths and weaknesses, and "the people who don't do that are the people who aren't self-aware enough to know. Most of the time that abuse ends up in their downfall as well." This can be understood as a veiled criticism of the current president, who frequently brags about various aspects of his personality or his perceived successes and rarely admits to having done anything wrong.

Those looking to understand more about what went into Biden's decision can read his new book, Promise Me, Dad, which Biden has talked about in several recent interviews and which covers the year in his life that culminated in Trump's election to the presidency. But if you'd like a final decision about whether he'll run or not in 2020, you'll just have to wait.

"Yes, I think I'm qualified, but that doesn't mean I should be president or that I will run for president," Biden said at a November event in Salt Lake City. "The honest to God answer is that I don't know."

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