Vice President Biden said Wednesday he regrets not running for president in 2016 but stressed it was ultimately the right call.

“I regret it every day, but it was the right decision for my family and for me, and I plan on staying deeply involved,” he said in an interview with NBC affiliate WVIT in Hartford, Conn.


It’s one of the first times Biden has publicly conveyed remorse about not jumping into the race to succeed President Obama.

Biden agonized over the decision for months during the late summer and early fall following the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer. 

But after road-testing his campaign message and holding dozens of meetings with advisers and family members, he chose not to run, saying it was too late to mount a viable campaign. 

In a December interview with Bloomberg, the vice president said it “was the right decision,” and that he was still trying to cope with the death of his son, who died last May at 46 years of age.

“I believed I could win, but that's not enough. I know myself. And I know it takes time,” he said. 

Biden has yet to endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, which pits former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE against Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders to sign pledge affirming he will run as a Democrat Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Hillicon Valley: Microsoft reveals new Russian hack attempts | Google failed to disclose hidden microphone | Booker makes late HQ2 bid | Conservative group targets Ocasio-Cortez over Amazon MORE (I) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Biden said the tenor of the debate on the Democratic side has been much more civil than the Republican primary fight. 

“On the Democratic side, it’s what I expected, there is real robust debate between Hillary and Bernie as there would have been if I had gotten in the race,” Biden said. “There have been no personal attacks ... of any consequence. It’s not a bunch of serendipity out there.”

Biden didn’t indicate he was close to backing a candidate. “We’ve got two good candidates,” he said, apparently omitting O’Malley. 

The vice president did a round of local TV interviews to plug Obama’s executive actions on gun control. The Connecticut station broadcasts near Sandy Hook Elementary School, site of the 2012 mass shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. 

Biden, who lost his 1-year-old daughter and first wife in a 1972 car crash, said he can empathize with the victims’ families. 

"It's something that haunts you," the vice president said about the shooting. "It's the idea of those beautiful little babies in those classrooms — like dolls, discarded. If you focus on it, it’s hard not to be moved by it. It seems like yesterday."