Delawareans stand by Biden’s decision

DOVER — Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to run for president was applauded by many Delaware officials and key allies, who nonetheless said they happily would have endorsed him for president had he chosen another path.

The vice president made the announcement around noon at the White House Rose Garden, delving into both his past and his hopes for the future. His speech focused heavily on his late son Beau, who died at age 46 of brain cancer in May.

“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I’ve said all along what I’ve said time and again to others, that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president, that it might close. I’ve concluded it has closed,” the vice president said.

Delaware politicians greeted his announcement with warmth, speaking of their immense respect for the man who

Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Wednesday that he will not run for president.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Wednesday that he will not run for president.

represented the state in the Senate for 36 years,

“I know this was an extraordinarily difficult decision for the Biden family to make,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, said in a statement. “I’ve known Joe for many years as we worked together to serve the people of Delaware and our country, and I know he has everything it takes to make a great president. He and his family have decided this is not the right time, and it’s my sincere hope that they are at peace with his decision.

“In my conversations with Joe over the past several weeks, I encouraged him to listen to his family as they all continue to grieve the terrible loss of their beloved Beau. I know he heard from people across the country who urged him to run and offered to help, but the most important influences on his decision were his wife, Jill, their children and grandchildren, and God.”

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who eventually succeeded Vice President Biden in the Senate, praised him for making the best decision for his family, while Rep. John Carney, D-Del., spoke of the vice president’s long service to the country.

“Joe’s someone I have admired and looked up to for over 30 years,” Rep. Carney, who worked for him in the 1980s, said in a statement. “On a personal level, I’m disappointed that he’s decided not to run — he would’ve made an excellent president. But I understand his decision, and in some ways, it makes me respect him even more.”

The news came as a surprise even to close allies, who were prepared to back their friend in a presidential race.

Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said in an interview he is confident Vice President Biden’s decision is what is best for his family. The Bidens are still grieving for their loss, especially Joe, who Rep. Schwartzkopf said was as close to Beau as any father has ever been to his son.

BIDEN'S CAREER For Joe Biden, it’s been a life spent in the public eye. Now, that seems to be approaching its end. The vice president announced Wednesday he will not run for president, seemingly putting a firm time limit on how much longer he will remain a public servant. While there are no laws stopping him from running for another elected post, it’s more likely he be appointed to the cabinet of the next president, although only time will tell in that regard. Of course, he could simply enter the private sector or retire, either of which would mark a sharp change after representing Delaware on the national stage for more than four decades. 1970 — Runs for, and wins, a seat on New Castle County Council 1972 — Upsets incumbent J. Caleb Boggs, a Republican, to win a seat in the Senate 1987 — Announces his presidential bid in June but drops it in September after accusations of plagiarism 2007 — Declares in January he plans to seek the presidency 2008 — Drops his presidential campaign in January, is selected as Barack Obama’s running mate in August and is elected vice president in November 2009 — Is sworn in to a seventh Senate term in January, resigns after less than two weeks and is then sworn in as vice president

BIDEN’S CAREER
For Joe Biden, it’s been a life spent in the public eye. Now, that seems to be approaching its end. The vice president announced Wednesday he will not run for president, seemingly putting a firm time limit on how much longer he will remain a public servant. While there are no laws stopping him from running for another elected post, it’s more likely he be appointed to the cabinet of the next president, although only time will tell in that regard. Of course, he could simply enter the private sector or retire, either of which would mark a sharp change after representing Delaware on the national stage for more than four decades.
1970 — Runs for, and wins, a seat on New Castle County Council
1972 — Upsets incumbent J. Caleb Boggs, a Republican, to win a seat in the Senate
1987 — Announces his presidential bid in June but drops it in September after accusations of plagiarism
2007 — Declares in January he plans to seek the presidency
2008 — Drops his presidential campaign in January, is selected as Barack Obama’s running mate in August and is elected vice president in November
2009 — Is sworn in to a seventh Senate term in January, resigns after less than two weeks and is then sworn in as vice president

As vice president, he is able to be around his family much more than he would be if he launched a presidential campaign, Rep. Schwartzkopf said.

He initially thought the vice president would not seek the top job but later changed his mind after receiving a phone call from Vice President Biden several weeks ago.

While a presidential campaign has been ruled out, the speaker said he was “prepared to go anywhere in this country he wanted me to go to help him” and is still holding out some hope the vice president changes his mind.

A “President“ Biden, he said, would have had a tremendous positive effect on the nation.

“We Delawareans know what Joe Biden and his family mean to Delaware,” he said. “He’s been intertwined in our lives for 40-some years. It would have been nice for the rest of country to get to know him more.”

Former Speaker of the House Robert Gilligan, a Democrat who spent 40 years in the Delaware House of Representatives, said he wanted the vice president to launch a campaign but was happy to support him either way.

He has known Joe Biden since 1972, when the two campaigned together.

Gov. Jack Markell spoke of Vice President Biden’s connection to individual citizens and his dedication to improving the lives of the average American. He is “beloved by many, not just in Delaware, but throughout the country and around the world,” the governor, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Not everyone received the news the same, however.

Delaware Republican Party Chairman Charlie Copeland blasted the Democratic Party and said in a statement “the vice president understands that today is his final day in the political sun.”

What’s next

Vice President Biden’s plans for the future are known perhaps only to him and his family. Once he leaves office, he has many options, some of which depend on whether a Republican or Democrat wins the White House next year.

Rep. Schwartzkopf said he thinks Vice President Biden may retire from public service and become a public speaker.

He would get compensated nicely for doing the “lecture circuit” but would still be able to set his own schedule and spend time with his family, especially his grandchildren, Rep. Schwartzkopf noted.

Vice President Biden has had multiple tragedies take place in the public’s eye, Rep. Schwartzkopf said, referencing the 1972 car crash that killed Vice President Biden’s daughter and first wife.

“He deserves quiet time,” he said.

Citing the vice president’s remarks Wednesday, other officials said they believe he will continue providing his views and experience in a way that can benefit the public.

“When his time in the White House concludes, Joe will certainly have the opportunity to serve as our ambassador to the world, and I know he’ll continue making a positive difference in all our lives. I also know Beau’s memory and spirit will help him do it,” Sen. Carper said.

Mr. Gilligan had a similar sentiment.

“We’ll be hearing from him,” he said in an interview.

He relayed a story from his days as a politics and government teacher, saying he always told his students no one from Delaware could ever get elected to one of the nation’s top offices. When Joe Biden was elected in 2008, he received two emails from students who recalled his words.

“It’s incredible somebody from our small state went as far as he did,” he said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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