There’s a kind of dance involved in declaring one’s candidacy for president: a long stretch of will-they-won’t-they speculation teased out by leading comments and conspicuous appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire.
It was clear that Jeb Bush intended to run for president before he officially declared in June, but the former governor of Florida extended the “unofficial” phase of his campaign for months as a way to skirt campaign finance laws. Hillary Clinton dropped hints (and dropped hints, and dropped hints) for months leading up to her own announcement. Even candidates who no one really cares about get coy about potential runs: Lincoln Chaffee, the former governor of Rhode Island who you may or may not know is running for the Democratic nomination, dropped a pre-announcement announcement back in April.
So it’s rare when a politician, rather than just manipulating a media cycle or, you know, FEC regulations, seems genuinely conflicted as people speculate wildly about their candidacy. But that seems to be happening with Joe Biden.
There are rumors that he’ll run (and he’s been game to entertain them), but he’s also in the midst of grieving publicly. His son, Beau Biden, died in May at the age of 46, and in a candid interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, Biden was frank about how that loss changed how he thinks about his day-to-day—and a possible 2016 run.
“I’m positive about where we’re going, but sometimes it just overwhelms you,” Biden said of his grief.
And when Colbert asked about a possible run, he replied: “I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there.”
The full interview is worth your time. It’s rare to hear people talk candidly about grief, much rarer for someone in public office to be so honest about how pain and loss changed them. Biden may not run, but if genuine candor about loss and recovery—issues that tend to get buried or sanitized in public—is what we can expect while he figures it out, then I’d say it’s worth paying attention.