Biden announces he’s not joining presidential race

Mr Paul Ryan has said Republicans "have become the problem", and "if my colleagues entrust me to be the Speaker, I want us to become the solution". He made it clear he would not accede to preconditions.
US Vice-President Joe Biden (centre), flanked by President Barack Obama and his wife Jill Biden, speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

This removes potential obstacle to Clinton’s path to nomination for 2016 election

WASHINGTON • United States Vice-President Joseph Biden said yesterday that he will not be a candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign, removing a potential obstacle to front runner Hillary Clinton’s path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” Mr Biden said in the White House Rose Garden with President Barack Obama and his wife Jill at his side.

“While I am not going to be a candidate, I will speak out clearly and forcefully as to where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation,” he said.

In deciding not to run, Mr Biden, 72, appeared to succumb to his own doubts about whether he and his family were ready for a gruelling campaign while still mourning his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May. His son had, before his death, urged him to run.

Mrs Clinton’s slipping poll numbers had cracked open a door to a late bid by the affable Mr Biden, leading to calls from his supporters to seek the presidency. But what was widely hailed as acommand performance by Mrs Clinton in the Oct 13 Democratic debate turned the tide back in her favour and quieted talk that she was vulnerable in her quest for her party’s nomination for the November 2016 election.

Mr Biden had run for president twice before and was a US senator from Delaware for more than three decades.

He is popular with white, working- class voters, and he could still play a major role in the election if he chooses to endorse a Democratic candidate. Also in the running for the Democratic nomination are former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.

Separately, Republican Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that he will run for the job of  US House Speaker if his party colleagues, besieged by conflict and chaos, unify behind him.

He added that he wanted changes made that would help ease the constant gridlock that has marred the House in recent years, a condition that he blamed in part on his own party.

“If I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve,” Mr Ryan told reporters after a Republican special meeting in the US Capitol.

“We have become the problem,” he said, noting how the public has accused Republicans for much of the dysfunction in Congress.

The leadership of the chamber was thrown into chaos two weeks ago, when No.2 Republican Kevin McCarthy bowed out of the race to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, amid a revolt by the chamber’s hard right faction.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Paul Ryan will run for House Speaker - on his own terms'. Print Edition | Subscribe