Vice President Joe Biden doesn't say for sure whether or not he'll run for president on a GQ profile on Thursday, but you can tell he kind of wants to. With all his hedging to GQ's Jeanne Marie Laskas, he reminds us that despite his propensity to joke and be joked about, Biden's also an ambitious politician. By the way, he does not like the implication of some of those jokes.
He answers the big question this way:
"I can die a happy man never having been president of the United States of America. But it doesn't mean I won't run . . . The judgment I’ll make is, first of all, am I still as full of as much energy as I have now — do I feel this? No. 2: Do I think I’m the best person in the position to move the ball? And, you know, we’ll see where the hell I am."
Hillary Clinton, who hasn't announced whether she'll run, is considered the frontrunner among Democrats. But the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote on Thursday that Biden will "absolutely" run if she doesn't.
Biden uses the word "Clinton" once in the interview, and he stops himself short. He starts discussing the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate: "I never speak about anything I don’t know a great deal about. That I haven’t worked like hell for. But that’s not what you’d expect. You might expect Clinton to do that. . . . Well, I shouldn’t. I’m getting — ." The exchange is awkward. Biden may be ready to start talking about running for president, but he's not ready to talk about running against a Clinton. Update: Though it's ambiguous in GQ's story which Clinton it was that Biden was referring, the vice president's office tells us that Biden was referring Bill Clinton.
Throughout the profile, Laskas paints Biden as the real deal — an effective politician whose gaffes sometimes, perhaps unfairly, overshadow his accomplishments. Biden is a little defensive about his persona:
"Remember all that talk about the debate? How the other guy"—Paul Ryan—"was supposed to be the numbers guy and knew all the detail? Remember? Listen, I look forward to those kinds of things—"
Yes, Biden was seen as owning Paul Ryan in the vice-presidential debate — but, in part, that was thanks to wild hand gestures. Biden suggests his job puts him at risk for jokes:
"My entire career," he says. "I have never, ever, ever... Like the joke with Barack. Well, not a joke. But to make the point: When he offered me the job, I said, 'I'm not wearing any funny hats.'"
Laskas suggests that, despite the cheery demeanor, Biden does not like that he has made it all the way to Vice President of the United States, and yet here he is, "sitting here twirling his glasses, having to defend the depth of his own intellect." Biden stuttered as a kid, and once gave a speech to a National Stuttering Association convention, saying the affliction is "insidious" because of the assumptions people make about your character: "We're slow. We don't have confidence. We don't have any strength. We're just not very bright."
The interview did not change the Internet's response to Biden. People made GIFs in response:
"Were I president, I would be no different than I am now. I remember being asked by Brian Williams, you know, was my candor going to cause me trouble internationally? Have you ever seen a foreign leader who didn't take me seriously?"
To date, Biden's jokes haven't caused any international incidents.