Hillary Clinton on a Biden run: give him ‘space’ for ‘a very difficult decision’


(Scott Morgan/REUTERS)

ANKENY, Iowa—If news reports are to be believed, Vice President Joe Biden has been talking to plenty of people about possibly jumping into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a slate of big donors and other party supporters. But the one person he hasn’t talked to is Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to reporters after a speech here, the former secretary of state said she hasn’t personally talked to Biden or anyone on his team about the possibility he might join her in the Democratic nomination race. He hasn’t reached out to her, and she hasn’t called him, Clinton said, suggesting that Biden deserves the “space” to make what she described as “a very difficult decision.”

“I just want the vice president to decide to do what’s right for him and his family,” Clinton said. “I don’t think it’s useful to be behind the scenes asking this or saying that. … I just want him to reach whatever he thinks the right decision is. He has to do that. It has to be a really hard one.”

Calling Biden a friend and someone she has a “great deal of admiration and affection for,” Clinton spoke in emotional terms of the tragedy Biden has suffered — including the loss of his first wife and their daughter early in his political career and, more recently, the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer.

“I was at his son’s funeral,” Clinton said in a quiet voice. “I cannot even imagine the grief and the heartbreak. I mean, Joe has had more terrible events than most people can contemplate.”

But, she added, whatever Biden decides about his aspirations for the Oval Office will not change her plans. “I’m still running for president, regardless,” she said, pointing out that she always thought it would be a competitive campaign. “I’m going to run as hard I can trying to convince as many people as possible to support me. I have to earn all the votes I can.”

Clinton’s event here came amid Democratic hand-wringing that her candidacy may be struggling amid various investigations of her time at the State Department, including her use of a private email account. But it doesn’t appear to be hurting her in Iowa. While rival Bernie Sanders has been attracting massive crowds at several of his recent events, a Suffolk University poll out this week found Clinton with a 34-point advantage among likely caucus-goers — even if Biden were to enter the race.