UPDATED with video: Former Veep Joe Biden told Today he hasn’t made up his mind about a White House bid in 2020, but when Megyn Kelly noted “the blue-collar Rust Belt-ers you need to win already love Donald Trump,” he shot back, “They love me more.”
NBC News has got Biden all morning Monday as he officially launched his so-called American Promise Tour promoting his new memoir Promise Me, Dad, about the last year of his son Beau’s life. But across most of the morning franchise’s four hours, he took questions about 2020, President Trump, and Hillary Clinton.
“I understand the Rust Belt,” Biden told Kelly. “Donald Trump has no notion what those people are going through…It’s not a criticism; it’s an observation. They call me Middle Class Joe – it’s not meant as a compliment in Washington, it means I’m not sophisticated. But I understand what built this country. The only thing I know I know is the middle class, their hopes and aspirations, because it’s where I come from. It’s what I am.”
A poll out hours earlier showed 82% of Trump voters would vote for Trump again. Kelly wondered why the Obama administration left middle-class Rust Belters so unhappy as to open the door for Trump.
“I tell you what happened. We had to deal with six years dragging this economy out of a ditch,” Biden responded.
Meanwhile, get used to hearing the following about his thoughts on running in 2020 – Biden gave different versions of it across the Today landscape, and also is scheduled to appear on Stephen Colbert’s show tonight, with loads more appearances after that.
“I give you my word as a Biden, if the lord came down and said, ‘The nomination is yours if you accept it now,’ I would say no, not now…because I am not ready.”
Biden also promised he never would have agreed to replace Clinton as the Democratic nominee in 2016 when she got pneumonia. He was shooting down a notion DNC chief Donna Brazile claimed to have mulled when she was plugging her new book on tour, right before Biden launched his. Biden did, however, admit that he thought Clinton ran a crummy campaign, telling Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, “It hit me like a ton of bricks – there was no discussion of issues.”
In other Today headlines, Biden boasted he made clear to Russian ruler Vladimir Putin that he thinks Putin’s claim of U.S. election non-interference is pure horseradish.
“I’m reluctant to criticize the President when he’s abroad, but I don’t believe Putin,” Biden said.
“There is no good reason to believe Putin… I don’t believe any objective person should believe Putin on that score,” Biden scoffed Monday, after Trump told reporters over the weekend he did believe Putin on that score, then tried to walk that back.
“I wanted to make clear to [Putin] I understood where he was coming from, as long as he understood I knew where he was coming from,” Biden said of an encounter. “I don’t believe Putin at all. They did meddle; he was responsible for it.”
Check out the clip above.