Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a group of world leaders at the Munich Security Conference on February 16, stressing the danger of what he called “foreign election interference.” The former vice president is often mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020, and his appearance in Munich led to questions about whether he is ready to toss his hat in the ring. You can watch Biden’s speech — and his Q and A with reporters afterwards — here.
Biden told the audience that “foreign election interference is not only a serious threat to our institutions, I believe it’s a serious threat to our national security. It impacts democracy in Europe, and it impacts on my country, the United States.”
Biden placed the blame squarely on Russia, saying, “Authoritarian egimes led by Russia are actively seeking to interfere in our open, diverse, and democratic societies to try to change outcomes of our democratic elections, and we can’t allow that to happen.”
The former vice president turned to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, quoting from Yeats’ “Easter 1916” to explain the damage caused by electoral interference. “All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born,” Biden said, quoting from the poem. More prosaically, Biden said that the aim of foreign election interference is to “divide us” and to create dissent and division.
Afterwards, Biden faced questions from reporters — many of them with US-based media — who wanted to know how his speech related to the US. The former vice president was also asked whether he plans to run for the democratic nomination for the presidency in 2020. Biden said that he looked forward to seeing conference attendees sign a pledge to help prevent foreign interference in elections. But he evaded questions about whether he had plans to run for president in 2020. Instead, he smiled and said, “I have an announcement. If I were a candidate, I would sign this pledge.”
Biden later added that he hoped to make a decision soon about whether he would run in 2020. “I haven’t reached a decision,” Biden told journalists at the conference. “I’m in the process of doing that, and I will in the near term let everyone know what that decision is.”