WASHINGTON: Former US vice president Joe Biden said Friday he was on the cusp of announcing his 2020 plans, acknowledging he was watching his words carefully so as not to “start the clock" on a presidential campaign.
Biden, 76, has been mulling another White House run for several months, and has been inching toward a decision.
But the Delaware Democrat's rollout might have been clouded by revelations from multiple women over the past week that Biden had touched them inappropriately or made them feel uncomfortable.
“I am very close to making a decision," Biden, who is polling as the party's frontrunner despite not officially being in the race, told reporters after a speech to union workers in Washington.
“Even if I knew for certain that I was going to run for president back in Thanksgiving, my intention from the beginning, if I were to run, would be the last person to announce."
Asked about the claims made against him and whether more women might come forward with similar allegations, Biden said he “wouldn't be surprised."
But he added: “I've had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me — who I don't know — and say the exact opposite."
On Wednesday, Biden released a video on social media addressing his physical contact with women, pledging to “be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future."
President Donald Trump — who has faced his own share of accusations over his conduct with women, some far more serious than those facing Biden — was quick to mock the Democrat on Twitter.
He also dismissed the former senator and vice president as a potential challenger in 2020.
“I don't see Joe Biden as a threat," Trump told reporters Friday. “I think he's only a threat to himself."
Biden made an awkward joke about the situation Friday during his speech before the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, telling the crowd that “I had permission to hug" the union's president.
In his address, he stressed his family's blue-collar roots and wondered aloud how some Americans had “gotten so damn elitist."
“This country was not built by Wall Street bankers, and CEOs and hedge fund managers," he said.
“It was built by the great American middle class," and the group that forged the country's middle class was “unions," he added.
Trump, despite saying he was unworried about a Biden challenge, posted what appeared to be a goading tweet just as the former vice president stopped talking, suggesting he might have been watching.
“I've employed thousands of Electrical Workers. They will be voting for me!" Trump tweeted.