Joe Biden didn’t want to be Obama’s right hand — the Robin to his Batman, the VP to his P — and was upfront about it when the former president asked him in 2008.
Huff Post reports that during a Tuesday event in San Francisco promoting his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” Biden discussed his reluctance to accept Obama’s offer.
“I’m flattered Barack, but I don’t want to be vice president,” Biden said he told Obama when urged to be his running mate. “[Obama] said, ‘How much time do you need?’ I said, ‘I don’t need any time.'”
He then added: “There’s no power in the vice presidency ― you’re stand-by equipment. I had a reputation as being a powerful senator, and I thought I could help Barack more by staying in the Senate.”
Biden, who served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years (1973 to 2009) and became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2007, told The New Yorker something similar in its October 2008 issue — that he wasn’t sure being VP was “an improvement” on what he had going in the Senate.
“I’ve got a job I think matters now, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee,” he said. “Presumptuous for me to say, but at least—at a minimum—I’ve been able to influence the direction of the Democratic Party on foreign policy. And I’ve been relatively—presumptuous to say—relatively successful legislatively in the Senate, being able to win a lot of Republican friends, and being able to cross the aisle. And so it wasn’t self-evident to me that being Vice-President would be a better job—you know what I mean?”
“They [Biden’s political advisers such as Ted Kaufman, Mike Donilon, and John Marttila] convinced me that I could have more influence on policy as a Vice-President with Barack,” Biden, who previously sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008 before dropping out, told the publication.
Beau Biden and more on “Promise Me, Dad”
Released November 2017, “Promise Me, Dad” chronicles the year his firstborn, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer and the process of mourning that ensued.
Thank you to the #AmericanPromiseTour moderators and thousands of readers who attended events or picked up a copy of #PromiseMeDad. Honored to be able to share the story of my son Beau, and what a remarkable man he was. https://t.co/Y7IzxKqXtV pic.twitter.com/Qp0l3qTJTz
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 22, 2017
Beau, who served as Delaware Attorney General for eight years and, as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq for a year, received his diagnosis in 2013. He ultimately died on May 30, 2015 at the age of 46.
As Biden wrote in a diary entry from that night, which he includes in the book:
May 30. 7:51 p.m. It happened. My God, my boy. My beautiful boy.
Beau’s death greatly influenced Biden’s decision not to enter the 2016 presidential election.
In the December 2017 issue of Vanity Fair, the 47th Vice President said that, had Beau never fallen ill, he would have run. “I had planned on running, and I wasn’t running against Hillary or Bernie or anybody else,” he told contributing editor and author David Kamp. “Honest to God, I thought that I was the best suited for the moment to be president.”
When Biden approached Beau and his second son, Hunter, about his intention to not run, Beau particularly wouldn’t take no for an answer, encouraging him onward. As Biden wrote in the book, “At one point he said it was my obligation to run, my duty. Duty was a word Beau Biden did not use lightly.”
When Biden appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in September 2015, he told the host, “I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and, two, they can look at the folks out there and say, ‘I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this.’ And I’d be lying if I said that I knew that I was there.”
Biden then officially announced in October of that year that he would not be running. He told Vanity Fair, “I realized that I just wasn’t ready.”
In terms of whether or not he’ll run in 2020, Biden hasn’t ruled anything out. “I haven’t decided to run,” he told the publication, “but I’ve decided I’m not going to decide not to run. We’ll see what happens.”
WATCH: Biden talks 2020 election on Ellen
Met with laughter and cheers of encouragement, Ellen essentially told Biden back in November that he was going to enter the 2020 presidential race. Biden, seemingly humbled and with a smile, said he hadn’t made up his mind.
Ellen then joked about her (or Oprah) being his running mate. #BidenEllen2020?