Vice President Joe Biden may be focused on President Obama's re-election, but he has not ruled out his own presidential bid in 2016.
Biden spoke exclusively with TODAY’s Ann Curry early Thursday morning from Iraq, where he's meeting with officials and troops. Curry asked if a run at the Oval Office was in his future.
“I am never ready to close the door on anything,’’ he said. “That's just a foolish thing to do. I learned a long time ago. My dad used to say (that) to me especially. He said, ‘Joe, remember, never argue with your wife about anything that's going to happen more than a year from now, and don't make decisions about anything that's going to happen a year from now.’
“I am intent on re-electing Barack Obama President of the United States of America. The rest will take care of itself.’’
A run in 2016 would pit Biden against a Republican party that he feels has changed.
“I think most of my Republican colleagues would say and have said that I have strong personal relationships with them, and yet nothing has moved,’’ Biden said. “The reason is this is not your father's Republican party.“The Republican party is sort of trying to find its soul. I think it's the ability to get a consensus of the Republican party through the Republican leadership.”
Biden is in Iraq as military operations enter their final days there after eight years.
“We're not claiming victory,’’ he said. “What we're claiming here is that we've done our job — ending the war we did not start, to end it in a responsible way, (and) to bring Americans home. (We want to) end bleeding both financially and physically that this war has caused, and to leave in place, the prospect of a trained military, a trained security force within democratic institutions. It's not done yet, but there's real hope.’’
Bringing the troops home from Iraq was a key Obama campaign promise, and Biden defended the administration's timing.
“This is no question,’’ he said. “Eight years. This is no rush. Over 4,500 dead. Thirty-thousand wounded. This is no rush. We've done this in a way that no one thought could be done.’’
While US forces have trained an Iraqi police force and an Iraqi military, safety is still no guarantee. Biden had to arrive in darkness accompanied by heavy security, and a car bombing that caused casualties occurred Wednesday.
“There's still concerns here in Iraq,’’ Biden said. “Violence is down to an all-time low. Go all the way back to 2002. We're in a situation where it's been that way for the last year-and-a-half, where still, the one-off job can occur.
“The idea that there is a sufficient capacity to bringing down this government and all democratic processes, that no longer exists.’’
There also is concern that Iran could move in to take control of Iraq shortly after the US military moves out.
“There is no possibility of them having the capacity without the world reaction,’’ Biden said. “Not just the United States, (but) the world reacting if all of a sudden Iran was to move across its border and invade any of the countries in the region.’’
Biden’s own son, Beau, is a member of the military and has served in Iraq. The vice president became emotional when expressing gratitude for the troops.
“I’m so incredibly proud of him, and these kids,’’ Biden said. “It mattered. They straightened out a situation that they inherited. This is, in my view, the greatest generation. This isn't the ‘X’ generation. This is the exceptional generation.
“They’re amazing. I say to them, ‘Be proud of what you did for your country, be proud of the example you showed the world, and most of all, be proud of how you protected your fellow soldiers.’’’