Joe Biden to Oprah Winfrey: I regret that I am not president

Vice President Joe Biden looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington October 22, 2015.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Joe Biden has one major regret: that he's not president. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this week, the former vice president talks candidly about resilience, power and his decision not to run for president in the 2016 election.

"I have a regret that I am not president," Biden admits. "Because I think there's so much opportunity. I think America is incredibly well-positioned."

Yet the former vice president says that he still stands by his ultimate decision not to run.

When Biden announced in October 2015 that he would not be seeking the presidency, just a few months had passed since the death of his son Beau Biden earlier that year.

"I don't regret the decision I made because it was the right decision for my family," Biden tells Winfrey.

The politician explains that no one should announce a presidential candidacy unless two questions can be answered: Are you qualified and can you give it your all?

Biden says that he checked off the first question but the second caused him to hesitate.

"Was I prepared to give my whole heart, my whole soul and all my attention to the endeavor? I knew I wasn't," says Biden. "My family was broken. I was broken."

His decision to not pursue the presidency is just another example of the many times Biden has put his family's needs before his professional goals.

Shortly after he was elected to the Senate at age 30, his wife and daughter were killed, Biden says in a commencement speech at Colby University.

"All of a sudden everything changed," he tells the crowd. Instead of attending his swearing-in he headed to the hospital.

"I later learned I was probably the only senator in history ever sworn in in a hospital because I didn't want to leave my sons," Biden says. "So they sent the secretary of the Senate up to the hospital to swear me in."

Though he's no longer in the White House, the 74-year-old says he plans to stay actively involved in politics.

"Failure at some point in your life is inevitable," says Biden. "But giving up is unforgivable."

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