Vice President Joe Biden’s Wednesday announcement — he will not run for president in 2016 — marked the beginning of the exit of one of Washington’s most experienced national security leaders and international statesmen.
His decades in government have made him one of the best-known officials in the U.S. and around the world, but Biden faced long odds against frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
As the Obama administration battles a spate of foreign policy crises and defends itself against charges that it lacks a cohesive national security strategy, Biden has been a staunch defender of the president’s doctrine of reluctance toward the use of military force.
Biden was something of a national security mentor for President Obama in his short time in the Senate, his campaign for the White House, and throughout his administration. The vice president also has been the point man for Iraq, from Obama’s declaring the Iraq War over to the deepening U.S. war against the Islamic State. Obama has said that choosing Biden as his running mate was one of the smartest decisions he ever made.
In contrast, Clinton has begun in her campaign to call for a more aggressive, forceful foreign policy, putting distance between herself and Obama’s mixed record and directing criticism at the administration with less and less subtlety.
Biden seemed to refer to this on Wednesday, vowing, “I will not be silent.”
“While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent,” he said. “I believe President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery, and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence. I am proud to have played a part in that … Democrats should not only protect and defend this record, they should run on this record.”
Biden had raised the possibility that grieving from the recent death of his son, Beau Biden, would prevent him from mounting the kind of campaign that he would need and want.
“I’ve said for a long time and again to others it very well may be that [grieving] process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president,” he said, standing in the Rose Garden between Obama and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. “I’ve concluded it has closed … unfortunately, I believe we are out of time.”