Biden: ‘I Don’t Know’ If I Could Have Beaten Trump in 2016

Obama did not encourage him to run

When asked if he could have beaten Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, former vice president Joe Biden told the New York Times, "I don't know."

"Everybody says that," he continued. "But look, I don't know. You've got to be in the game. I thought Hillary would have made a good president."

Biden considered running in 2016, but ultimately decided not to get into the race as his son Beau was dying of cancer at the time. According to close friends, Biden would have run in 2016 if Beau had not died. Biden had early conversations about the possibility with former president Barack Obama, but the latter's response was "not encouraging."

After Obama did not intervene on Biden's behalf when fellow 2020 Democratic candidates challenged him for not supporting busing in the 1970s, Biden said he did not take the silence as disapproval.

"I would rather him not get engaged," Biden told the Times. "I want to win this fair and square."

But at the same time, however, Biden has not shied from invoking Obama's name to score points with voters. He frequently invokes the former president, describing his time in the White House as idyllic peace.

"Know what I was most proud of?" Biden said in June. "For eight years, there wasn't one single hint of a scandal or a lie," he told a cheering crowd.

Obama has made similar claims, saying in 2018 he's proud of his work because "coming out of the modern presidency without anybody going to jail is really good. It's a big deal."

Despite these claims, the Obama administration was plagued by frequent scandal. It endured former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's email scandal, the administration's haphazard handling of the 2012 terror attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, and a scandal involving the IRS targeting conservatives. The administration was also responsible for Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice's following of reporter James Rosen, and the repeated failures of the Department of Veterans Affairs to address veterans' medical needs.