NEW YORK — Sounding more unsure about a run for president than he has to date, Vice President Joe Biden told Stephen Colbert in an emotional interview that he’s far from ready to mount a campaign.
“I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there,” he told Colbert on “The Late Show.” “I’m being completely honest.”
Biden, still wrestling with the death this spring of his eldest son, told Colbert that any person running for president should commit themselves fully to the cause — and he wasn’t yet sure he could make that obligation.
His comments in a midsized auditorium at the Ed Sullivan Theater came on Colbert’s third show since assuming the role as host of “The Late Show” following the departure of David Letterman. The interview was emotional, serious, and largely focused on Biden’s recovery from his son’s death, with Biden speaking at length about how his faith carried him through the turmoil.
But amid intense scrutiny of the vice president as he decides on a presidential run, Biden said he wasn’t sure if he was in the emotional place to become a presidential candidate again.
“Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they’re willing to give it 110% of who they are,” he said. “And I am — as I said I’m optimistic, I’m positive about where we’re going — but I find myself — you understand it — sometimes it just overwhelms you.”
Biden is expected to make his decision whether to run for president in the coming weeks, but he he has questioned aloud whether he has the “emotional fuel” for a campaign to dislodge Hillary Clinton from the pole position in the Democratic race.
The vice president recalled a moment meeting military families in Denver where someone called out that they had served in the forces with his son, Beau, who died this spring.
“All of a sudden — it’s going great — and a guy in the back yells “Major Beau Biden, Bronze Star sir, served with him in Iraq’,” Biden recalled. “And all of a sudden I lost it.”
Haltingly, Biden wondered aloud “How could you — that’s not — I shouldn’t be saying this — you can’t do that.”
During the interview, Biden tried to inject some levity to his weighty conversation with Colbert.
“I think you should run for president again and I’ll be your vice president,” the incumbent vice president told the new host.
But prodded by Colbert, he continually returned to Beau, who encouraged him to run for president before his death.
“You’ve just got to get up. And I’d feel like I was letting down Beau … if I didn’t just get up,” Biden said.
Colbert himself appeared to offer up an endorsement — at least of a Biden run — in the interview’s final moments.
“I just want to say I think your experience and your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race,” the host said.