UPDATE with candidates’ reactions: The reality-TV series that is How The Heck Did Donald Trump Become A Viable Presidential Candidate just got more exciting with Joe Biden’s Rose Garden announcement today that he’s not running.
“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I said all along…it may very well be that the process, by time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president. I’ve concluded it has closed,” Biden said, with his wife, and President Obama at his side.
“We’re out of time for mounting a winning campaign,” he added.
And, with that, Biden became the top trender on Twitter, besting even #BackToTheFuture. And Hillary Clinton widened her lead over Bernie Sanders in the polls.
All of the broadcast networks with news operations broke in to cover the announcement. It may be the first time they’ve all interrupted regularly scheduled programming to cover someone announcing they are not running for office, and reflects the enormous viewer appetite for POTUS race news. Walking up to the Biden news, TV news talking heads ruminated that the fact he was making announcement from the “sacred ground” that is the White House’s Rose Garden would seem to indicate he had decided not to jump in.
Biden’s announcement comes a few hours before CNBC is expected to announce which GOP candidates have made the Big Table at its upcoming GOP debate and which candidates will be sent to the Kids’ Table. Spoiler Alert: Donald Trump will be at the Big Table.
After Biden’s announcement, other candidates began to react:
CNN had practically begged Biden to announce days ago, so as to be part of the network’s first Democratic debate, in hopes it would goose the ratings, prepping a podium for him onstage just in case. CNN finally conceded defeat the day of the debate and switched its Biden blather to talk of how the Q&A could very well convince Vice President Joe Biden to step up to the plate. Despite its Biden-less-ness, the debate averaged 15.8 million total viewers, making it the sixth-biggest non-sports cable telecast in history – CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield bragged on-air the two-hour Anderson Cooper-moderated exchange drew “a higher number than the season premiere of The Walking Dead.” GOP frontrunner Donald Trump contributed a good-ish number of hate-watchers when he announced he had decided t0 live tweet the event.
That night, Draft Biden, the super-PAC set up to plug a Biden run for president, debuted its new ad, “Never Quit.” It replaced the org’s previous “My Redemption” ad that told the story of Biden’s personal tragedies: when his first wife and 1-year-old daughter died in a car accident in 1972 and, more recently, the death of his elder son Joseph R. Biden III, the former attorney general of Delaware, at age 46, of brain cancer. That ad had been tagged for use on CNN in today’s run-up to that Dem debate, but reportedly was replaced after Biden’s camp rep said it walked over “sacred ground.”
Earlier, some had expected Biden to announce on September 10, when he made his inaugural visit to Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Since Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) on August 22, it had been widely speculated/reported Biden was considering a 2016 presidential run. Biden did not, and instead had an emotional conversation with Colbert about his son’s death. Biden’s reportedly told colleagues his son urged him to run for POTUS.