Joe Biden not running for president

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden announced earlier today that he will not run for president in 2016, because while his family has "worked through the grieving process" for his son Beau Biden, the window for "mounting a realistic campaign […] has closed." Click through to watch Biden’s full statement from the White House Rose Garden. He vowed to stay involved in political discourse: "But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party, and where we need to go as a nation."

Biden also urged other Democratic candidates not to run away from President Barack Obama as they seek office in 2016: "I believe that President Obama has led this nation from crisis to recovery, and we’re now on the cusp of resurgence, and I’m proud to have played a part in that. This party—our nation—will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. […] Democrats should not only defend this record, and protect this record, they should run on the record."

Any comments about the vice president’s announcement or the Democratic presidential race generally are welcome in this thread. I think Biden made the right choice. I don’t see the current Democratic field lacking the vision or the experience he would have brought to the table. Conventional wisdom suggests that Hillary Clinton will benefit more than Bernie Sanders from Biden staying out of the race. Martin O’Malley could gain ground too, because Democrats who were hoping the vice president would run again clearly were not satisfied with the current front-runners.

UPDATE: I enclose below reaction to Biden’s decision.

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Steve King backing Daniel Webster, not Kevin McCarthy, for House speaker (updated)

Representative Steve King (IA-04) announced on Twitter yesterday that he will support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida for House speaker, because Webster "will run a Membership driven" U.S. House. King nominated Webster for speaker in January. Both he and Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) voted for Webster that day, rather than to re-elect House Speaker John Boehner.

Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos reported yesterday for The Hill that the House Freedom Caucus endorsed Webster, “a bold move that raises serious doubts about whether Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy can cobble together the 218 votes on the House floor he needs to be promoted.” To my knowledge, King does not belong to the House Freedom Caucus, but Blum does. I haven’t seen any news release or social media posting from Blum this week about the speaker’s race; I am seeking comment from his office on whether he will support Webster again. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah is also running for the speaker’s position.

McCarthy has been the heavy favorite to replace John Boehner, but he drew criticism even from fellow Republicans after saying on Fox News that everyone thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable until House Republicans put together a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Clinton has been hammering McCarthy at her recent public appearances, including in Iowa yesterday, and featured his remarks in her campaign’s first national television commercial.

I will update this post as needed. Just for fun: last night, Stephen Colbert ran a devastating Late Show segment on McCarthy’s tendency to deliver word salad-like statements rather than coherent remarks on matters of national importance.

UPDATE: McCarthy dropped out of the speaker’s race on the morning of October 8. SECOND UPDATE: Michael Calderone reported for the Huffington Post on allegations that McCarthy dropped out after a conservative activist threatened to expose an extramarital affair. Both McCarthy and the other House Republican at the center of the rumors deny that they had an affair.

Blum’s office did not respond to my request for comment on whether he will support Webster for speaker again. Blum has not alluded to the speaker’s race on his Twitter account. He posted a link on Facebook to a report on McCarthy withdrawing from the race, but did not comment on that news or say whom he favors to replace John Boehner.

Representative David Young (IA-03) has not mentioned the speaker’s race on any of his social media feeds, to my knowledge.

IA-01: "Middle Class Fighter" Pat Murphy is in

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy made his second Congressional campaign official this morning. In the shortest YouTube candidate announcement video I’ve ever seen (just fourteen seconds long), Murphy declared, "The truck’s up and running…and so am I." A press release announced, "Middle Class Fighter to Take on [GOP incumbent Rod] Blum," and a e-mail to supporters fleshed out Murphy’s case. Excerpt:

Teri and I discussed this race long and hard and the bottom line is that middle class Iowans deserve to have a voice in Congress, somebody who knows the struggles they face, and will fight for them.  I’ve done that my whole life, because that’s who I am.  And there’s no other candidate running – from either party – who has been on the right side of these fights from day one.

From raising the minimum wage and teacher pay, passing equal pay for women, to protecting women’s health care and all Iowan’s civil rights.  That’s my record.  Fighting for progressive Iowa values is in my blood, with your help, it’s exactly what I’ll do in Congress.

Murphy’s campaign is on the web at Pat Murphy for Congress, on Facebook here, and Twitter here. (His old campaign website is no longer functional.)

I enclose below the candidate’s full e-mail to supporters, as well as excerpts from the press release. It points to Murphy’s lead in a recent internal poll of Democrats in IA-01 and recalls his outright victory in the 2014 primary, despite being outspent by some of his four opponents. The press release also notes that in the general election, Murphy outperformed both U.S. Senate nominee Bruce Braley and the gubernatorial ticket of Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon. Vernon has been considered the front-runner for the 2016 primary in IA-01, on the strength of early fundraising and endorsements from Iowa-based and Washington Democrats. Gary Kroeger is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Former U.S. Representative Dave Nagle is backing Murphy for Congress again, as is the Blue America PAC, which supports progressive candidates in Democratic primaries as well as against Republicans in general elections. Murphy dominated the labor union endorsements before the 2014 primary. I’ll be interested to see whether Vernon picks up more labor support this cycle. So far, she has the backing of Teamsters Local 238, the “largest Teamster Local headquartered in the state of Iowa,” and the  Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, which supported her during the 2014 primary. UPDATE: Added below a Vernon campaign press release “welcoming” Murphy to the race and listing her key endorsers. They include several Iowa House Democrats who served in the legislature while Murphy was speaker from 2007 through 2010. SECOND UPDATE: Added Kroeger’s statement below.

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Iowa House rejects broadband access bill

When bills come to the floor of the Iowa House or Senate, the outcome of the vote is typically a foregone conclusion. Leaders rarely call up bills that don’t have the votes to pass. But in "the most surprising vote of the day, if not this year’s session," Iowa House members on Friday rejected House File 2472, a bill designed to expand broadband access in small-town and rural Iowa. The initiative was among Governor Terry Branstad’s legislative priorities this year. While the goal is uncontroversial, especially in communities where people are stuck with dialup internet, lawmakers disagreed on how to accomplish the task.

The House Journal for April 25 includes details from the floor debate, including roll calls on two Democratic amendments that failed to pass on party-line votes. One of them was a “strike” amendment replacing the entire content of House File 2472 with stronger incentives favored by House Democrats. After the routine business of rejecting minority party amendments, a vote was called on final passage. But only 42 Republicans voted yes, joined by just two Democrats. I’ve posted a list of yes and no votes after the jump. House Minority Leader Mark Smith said Democrats opposed the bill because it “does not go far enough in expanding broadband access to more homes and small businesses.” The Republicans who voted no may have been put off by the size of the tax breaks or the lack of accountability. State Representative Guy Vander Linden told Radio Iowa, “We don’t say they need to meet any requirements in terms of our capacity, speed – anything. All we say is: ‘If you will put broadband infrastructure in place in any unserved or underserved area…we’ll give you all these benefits.’ That, to me, sounds like a blank check that I’m not willing to sign up to.”

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer has already filed a motion to reconsider the vote on this bill, so leaders may believe they can find the votes they need through friendly persuasion or arm-twisting. (She was one of the “no” votes, presumably to preserve her ability to file the bill again after realizing it would not pass.) Two Republicans (Clel Baudler and Ron Jorgensen) were absent from Friday’s vote. Assuming they support the broadband bill and Upmeyer changes her vote, House leaders would need to persuade four more Republicans or Democrats.

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Brian Meyer to face Michael Young in Iowa House district 33 special

Democrat Brian Meyer and Republican Michael Young were both unanimously chosen as candidates for the October 22 special election in Iowa House district 33 during nominating conventions on September 4. Background on Des Moines City Council member Meyer is after the jump; he became the consensus candidate in this heavily Democratic district two weeks ago, preventing a potentially messy nominating process.

Young is a Marine Corps veteran who has lived on the south side of Des Moines for most of his life. He serves on the city’s Access Advisory Board, dealing with implementation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

It would be a monumental upset for Meyer to lose this election. Not only do Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 5,000 in House district 33, south side voters have elected Meyer to the Des Moines City Council twice. Democrats would be wise to take nothing for granted in a low-turnout special, though.

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