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Possible 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden is confident about his ability to do the job.
"I think I'm the most qualified person in the country to be president. The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that I've worked on my whole life — the plight of the middle class and foreign policy," the former vice president said Monday night at an event for his book tour in Montana, according to the Missoula Current.
The comments are the clearest signal yet that Biden could challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. However, the 76-year-old Democrat said his family "needs to decide as a unit whether we're ready" for a presidential campaign.
Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate for more than 30 years before becoming President Barack Obama's No. 2, has one of the strongest resumes in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic presidential primary field. At least a dozen — and potentially more — candidates could announce presidential bids in coming months.
Biden has strong name recognition. Democrats deployed him and his colloquial style to hotly contested swing areas in this year's midterms. The party will likely need to win in those areas to defeat Trump in 2020, and Biden is seen as a strong pitchman to the white working class on issues such as health care, labor rights, Social Security and Medicare.
But in the midterms, voters showed an affinity for fresh faces. Biden's age and long years in Washington could make him unappealing in a field that could include younger lawmakers such as Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas or Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
If elected in 2020, Biden would be 78 at the time of inauguration in January 2021. Trump was the oldest previous president to take office at 70 years old.
Democratic primary voters will also likely seize on parts of Biden's record. As the party clamors for criminal justice reform, critics have said a 1990s crime bill that Biden championed helped fuel mass incarceration. In an era where more focus in Washington has turned to accusations of sexual harassment against powerful officials, he could face backlash for his handling of the Anita Hill hearings during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation.
Biden declined to run for president in 2016 following the death of his son, Beau. He has laid the foundations for a possible presidential bid in 2020: For example, he made a midterm campaign stop in Iowa, the earliest presidential nominating state.
At the Montana event, Biden was also asked whether he could run despite being a "gaffe machine."
"I may be a gaffe machine, but my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth. No one doubts what I say. The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean," the former vice president said.