Democratic presidential candidates doled out praise for Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday after he announced that his weeks of indecision about a possible presidential run have ended with a final “no.”
Hillary Clinton, whose position as the Democratic front-runner is all but sure to be further solidified by Biden’s decision, called the vice president an inspiration after his announcement that he won’t seek the party’s nomination.
Clinton also alluded to Biden’s role in President Barack Obama’s legacy, saying in a later written statement:
“As Vice President, Joe has been by President Obama’s side for every pivotal decision. He helped save the auto industry and pull our economy back from the brink of depression,” she said, adding “It’s a record to be proud of, defend, and build on. And I am confident that history isn’t finished with Joe Biden. As he said today, there is more work to do. And if I know Joe, he will always be on the front-lines, always fighting for all of us.”
In the latest NBC/WSJ poll, Hillary’s lead over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders is 20 points with Biden in the race (49%-29%) and 25 points without him (58%-33%).
For his part, Sanders highlighted Biden’s focus on the progressive issues that are at the core of the Vermont senator’s candidacy.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him to address the major crises we face,” he said in a statement. “He understands the need to rebuild the middle class; and to address income and wealth inequality, a corrupt campaign finance system, climate change, racial justice, immigration reform and the need for publicly-funded higher education.”
Sanders’ top adviser, Tad Devine, told NBC News that Biden’s decision will have no impact on Sanders’ strategy in the race.
“It’s not going to change what we’re doing. We’ve laid out a path toward the nomination, and the path Bernie Sanders has revolves around his message, and revolves around the campaign we’re building in Iowa and New Hampshire. Had Biden gotten in, there would be no deviation from what we’re doing now,” Devine said.
Another Democratic contender, Martin O’Malley, said Biden “would have been a welcome addition to the Democratic race.”
“I will always admire his strength in the face of adversity and his passion for bettering our country. I respect Vice President Biden’s decision today and wish the Vice President and his family well,” O’Malley said.
Biden’s most ardent supporters were the first out of the gate with their reaction to his decision to step aside.
“We are so grateful for the gigantic outpouring of support from hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country in our effort to encourage the vice president to run. While the Vice President has decided not to run, we know that over the next year he will stand up for all Americans and articulate a vision for America’s future that will leave no one behind,” Will Pierce, executive director of Draft Biden, said in a statement moments after Biden’s remarks in the Rose Garden.
Republicans, now faced with increased odds that Clinton will face their party’s nominee in November, tried to make the case Wednesday that Biden’s exit is a boon for the GOP.
“The Vice President’s decision not to enter the 2016 race is a major blow for Democrats, who now will almost certainly be saddled with their unpopular and scandal plagued front-runner Hillary Clinton,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Republican presidential candidates said that the announcement would bolster their own campaigns.
Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, who is polling at the bottom of the pack, tweeted this:
This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com