Why you should care

Because he’s not ruling out a presidential run.

Someone in the crowd beat Katie Couric to the question. During a Q&A with Dr. Jill Biden, when the OZY Fest co-host brought up the anguished decision by then-Vice President Joe Biden not to run for president in 2016, an audience member yelled, “2020!” The former second lady and current board chair for the international charity Save the Children was on stage while her husband watched from the audience. When Couric took the question directly to Jill Biden, she deferred to the man sitting a few rows away, stage left.

Jill Biden w/Katie Couric

Katie Couric and Dr. Jill Biden discuss cancer research and America’s education needs at OZY Fest.

Source Mark Madeo/OZY

Standing up from his seat in the second row and coming to the front, the former vice president said, “My dad used to have an expression: ‘A lucky person gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor and knows that they’re allowed to do the things that still matter.’ I think it still matters a great deal. And I’m worried about the direction of the country. My focus now — our focus now — is to get a Democratic Congress elected in 2018. There’s a lot of talent in the Democratic Party. My hope and expectation is [that] some of the younger folks are going to come up, they are going to fill the void. But if they don’t — Jill’s running.”

I’ve always felt — I still feel — that Joe would make an incredible president.

Dr. Jill Biden

After some laughter, Jill Biden demurred, but it’s evident that Joe Biden, who turns 75 in November, is not ready for retirement. During a 36-year career in the U.S. Senate, he ran in the 1988 and 2008 Democratic presidential primaries but didn’t get far either time. He recently launched a new political action committee, American Possibilities, to support Democrats in advance of 2018 — and possibly fund a campaign-in-waiting.

The Bidens largely have stayed out of the fray in the Donald Trump era, in order, according to Jill Biden, to give the new administration “a chance to succeed.” They’re staying engaged on everything from cancer research funding to foreign policy to community colleges without making it about Trump. “We’re moving forward in a positive way,” Jill Biden said. “We’re not looking back and saying this is horrible, horrible. We’re saying maybe we don’t agree with it — or we don’t — but let’s push forward. Let’s make progress on what we care about.”

Joe Madeo

Former Vice President Joe Biden briefly takes the stage to talk about his political future.

Source Mark Madeo/OZY

What the Bidens care about these days is the Biden Cancer Initiative to raise money and awareness for cancer research, an endeavor the Bidens hope will eventually lead to vaccines for children to send certain types of cancer the way of polio or the mumps. The Bidens have personal experience there: Joe’s eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. At the time, many people were encouraging Joe to run for president — and some analysts say he would have beaten Trump in a general election fight. When Couric asked Jill Biden if the family regretted deciding not to run, she was resolute that they made the right call. “When you lose a child, it’s hard to just put one foot in front of the other,” Jill Biden said. “Even though I felt — I’ve always felt, I still feel — that Joe would make an incredible president. At that time, you just can’t do it. You can’t say, ‘OK, I’ve lost my child. We’ve lost our child. Now let’s get out on the campaign trail. Let’s talk to people.’ You can’t do it.”

But the Bidens are out talking now, with Joe working on a book and Jill still teaching at Northern Virginia Community College, along with their advocacy work. Will another campaign be next?

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