In New Hampshire, Joe Biden talks of winning 'it back,' but adds 'Guys, I'm not running'
MANCHESTER – Joe Biden’s speech to sold out New Hampshire Democratic Party Dinner may have sounded like an early version of a 2020 stump speech, but the former Vice President insisted he’s not considering a third campaign for the presidency.
Early in his keynote address at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Biden said that when NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley invited him to speak in the first-in-nation-primary state, “there wasn’t a doubt in my mind, even though it caused a lot of speculation.”
But Biden then immediately added “Guys, I’m not running.”
That comment elicited some groans from the crowd, and one man yelled “run Joe, run.”
It was the only time in an hour long speech that the former Vice President referenced the possibility of a third White House run. Instead, Biden urged Democrats to emphasize an optimistic message on such issues as health care and education aimed at struggling Americans.
“We have to prove, again, we understand that hopelessness.” He added.
And he said he’s ready to assist the party to “help raise money, recruit candidates, campaign.. wherever you want.”
“Just let me know, because it’s important,” he added.
Biden’s appearance came one week after 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley spoke to party activists at three stops across New Hampshire, sparking speculation the former two-term Maryland governor may run again.
And it came just three days after Ohio Gov. John Kasich was in the Granite State as part of his national book tour. The 2016 Republican presidential contender hasn’t ruled out a possible primary challenge in 2020 against President Donald Trump.
In front of a crowd of more than 800, the former Vice President, with his wife Dr. Jill Biden standing next to him, spoke emotionally as he thanked Granite State Democrats for their support of the 2015 death of his eldest son Beau.
Biden spent much of his address on three values that he feels are lacking in today’s national political conversation: dignity, optimism, and the ability to think big. He touted that Americans are “better positioned than any nation on Earth to lead the world in the 21st century.”
And he urged that people “have to think big again.”
Biden also indirectly took aim at Trump, saying “dignity is missing in so much of today’s discussion,” adding that “they’re appealing to the worst fears and anxieties.”
He said that Americans need to ask “what kind of country are we becoming? What kind of country do we believe that we want to be?”
Biden concluded his speech by urging “folks, let’s go win it back.”
The 100 Club Dinner, first held in 1959, is one of the two major state Democratic party annual fundraising events, and its keynote speakers have often gone on to seeking the presidency. Sen. Biden of Delaware gave the keynote address in 1985, and again as Vice President in 2011.
Biden unsuccessfully ran for the White House 1988 and 2008. He seriously considered another run in 2016, but announced in the autumn of 2015 that he would forgo another bid due mainly to the death of his son Beau.
A top state Democrat told NH1 News Biden could do more for the party by not running for president again.
“Am I disappointed that Joe Biden says he’s not running. No. I think he is the kind of person we need to speak for the party, to lead for the party, and to encourage other people to run,” NHDP 1st Vice Chair Martha Fuller Clark said after the former vice president’s speech.
The longtime state senator from Portsmouth added that “he (Biden) could not inspire us the way he did tonight if he were running for office.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden delivers the keynote address in front of a sold out audience of more than 800 at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, in Manchester on April 30, 2017
Former Vice President Joe Biden is joined on the stage (from left to right) Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, Rep, Annie Kuster, and Sen. Maggie Hassan, after he delivers the keynote address at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, in Manchester on April 30, 2017