Joe Biden Says He Can't 'Rush' His 2016 Decision

The vice president reflected on his religious faith in new interview.

ByABC News
September 21, 2015, 8:14 AM
Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Father Matt Malone, president and editor in chief of America Media, a leading Catholic news organization and ABC News partner.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Father Matt Malone, president and editor in chief of America Media, a leading Catholic news organization and ABC News partner.
America Media

— -- Vice President Joe Biden will not “rush” his 2016 decision as he weighs whether another presidential run would be in the best interest of his family, he said in an interview with America Media, a leading Catholic news organization.

“You have no right, as an individual, to decide to run. Your whole family is implicated, your whole family is engaged and so, for us, it’s a family decision. And I just have to be comfortable that this will be good for the family,” the vice president said in an interview with the Rev. Matt Malone, president and editor in chief of America Media, an ABC News partner.

“In the past, all our political efforts have actually strengthened the family,” he said in his first interview with a news organization since son Beau's death in May. “It’s not quite there yet and it may not get there in time to make it feasible to be able to run and succeed because there are certain windows that will close. But if that’s it, that’s it. But it’s not like I can rush it.”

The comments are the vice president’s latest explanation of his thought process as he weighs another presidential run at a time when he and his family are still grappling with the death of son Beau, who died in May after a battle with brain cancer. He was 46.

The vice president, 72, said his family is now committed to focusing on the inspiration Beau provided, instead of talking about his loss

“We don’t want to talk so much anymore, publicly or privately, about the loss,” the vice president said. “We all decided that we should focus on the inspiration he [Beau] provided. …Regardless of what I do in public or private life, we are not going to walk away from the things … that made Beau’s life, in his mind beyond his family, worthwhile.”

The vice president recounted an expression his father shared throughout his life: “Just get up pal, get up,” adding, “That’s what Beau wants us to do. That’s what Beau expects his father to do, so we’re just getting up and moving on and we’re going to do good things in his name.”

The vice president’s 30-minute interview with Malone comes just before Pope Francis’ visit to the United States.

“He’s the embodiment of Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with; the idea that everyone’s entitled to dignity,” Biden said of the pope. “I’m excited, quite frankly, as a practicing Catholic. I am really excited by the whole world is getting to see what are the basic essential elements of what constitutes Catholicism.”

Biden, who is the first Roman Catholic to become vice president, reflected on own how he balances his own faith with his political life.

“All the principles of my faith I make no excuse for attempting to live up to. I don’t all the time, but I’m not prepared to impose doctrine that I’m prepared to accept on the rest of them,” he said.

The vice president used abortion as an example of an issue on which he agrees with the Catholic church’s position that life begins at conception, but also doesn’t think that belief should be imposed on others. Asked whether it’s possible to be against abortion in the Democratic Party, he said, “Absolutely, positively, and that’s been my position as long as I’ve been engaged.”

The vice president defended Pope Francis’s controversial climate change encyclical, which was criticized as a political message by some Republicans.

“He made it clear it’s not the papacy’s role to be the scientist-in-chief and or the political arbiter,” the vice president said. “It was an invitation -- almost a demand -- that a dialogue begin internationally to deal with the single most consequential problem and issue facing humanity right now.

“I think it’s a total misrepresentation of the pope’s encyclical to say it’s a political document,” he added. “It’s a human document.”

For more coverage of Pope Francis' trip to the U.S., visit America Media.

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