Biden is working hard to insist he's not running for president while also laying groundwork for 2020

Joe bidenCBSFormer Vice President Joe Biden.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that although he would “rather be president” right now, he had not taken any steps to run for president in 2020. 

“I don’t plan on running, but everybody says because I won’t commit that I will not run under any circumstances, that means I’m running,” Biden said at a conference hosted by Fortune in San Diego. “I’m doing nothing to run. I really mean this.”

Although he has repeatedly denied his intention to run in 2020, his post-administration schedule has stoked speculation that he could be eyeing a third bid for the White House.

The vice president has embarked on early public and private party-building activities in states like New Hampshire, Florida, and South Carolina, all states key to winning primaries on the presidency, and has reportedly stayed in close contact with top political aides.

Monday’s interview came just days after a high-profile appearance at a dinner hosted by the Democratic Party in New Hampshire, where Biden told attendees that he felt comfortable advocating for his policies in areas that voted for Trump in 2016. The crowd booed when Biden declared that he was not going to run.

Biden turned down the same dinner invitation in 2015, somewhat tempering speculation that he intended on running in 2016.

Indeed, Biden spent much of the evening on Monday making the case for his vision for America.

He launched into a five-minute-long condemnation of the intraparty debate about how the Democratic Party should attempt to win back white working class voters, saying that Democrats need to prioritise moonshot projects and ensuring economic optimism.

Though he acknowledged that the party was “not speaking to” the hopelessness felt by some middle-aged white male voters, Biden also argued that issues like gender pay equity could appeal to middle-income voters of both political stripes. 

“I don’t think there’s any inconsistency like the false debating happening in my party right now,” Biden said. “Where either you’re less progressive and more pro-white working guy, or you’re more progressive and forget about white working guy. It’s bizarre.”

Though he’s recently waved off talk of his political plans, Biden hasn’t always been as dismissive of his 2020 aspirations. 

Earlier this year, he joked about jumping into the race.

“Yeah, I am. I’m going to run in 2020,” Biden said. Asked to clarify what he was running for, he offered a blunt response: “For president. What the hell, man?”

Watch the clip below:


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