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John Kerry overheard discussing potential 2020 bid amid concerns over Sanders: report

Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryBudowsky: President Biden for the Nobel Peace Prize Bishops to debate banning communion for president In Europe, Biden seeks to reassert U.S. climate leadership MORE was reportedly overheard by an NBC News reporter discussing the possibility of entering the 2020 race for president because of concerns over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay MORE (I-Vt.) rising in the polls as the Iowa caucuses approach.

NBC News reported Sunday that Kerry was heard telling an unknown confidant on the phone at a Des Moines, Iowa, hotel about the steps he would need to take in order to enter the race, including stepping down from Bank of America's board of directors.

Big-dollar donors loyal to Kerry would have to "raise a couple million" in order to get Kerry's bid off the ground, he was reportedly heard saying, while adding that such donors were now facing "the reality of Bernie" and "the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole."

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However, Kerry's plans to enter the primary are reportedly not definite, as he was also heard questioning the idea of entering the race at all, telling the caller that "maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here" and later telling NBC News that he was "absolutely not" considering mounting a bid for president when asked about the call.

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Kerry forcefully denied plans to enter the race, though he later deleted the statement and reposted it without the expletive.

"As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for President. Any report otherwise is f---ing (or categorically) false. I’ve been proud to campaign with my good friend Joe Biden, who is going to win the nomination, beat Trump, and make an outstanding president," Kerry initially tweeted.

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The former secretary of State later clarified in a statement what he had been discussing on the phone.

"This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation,” Kerry told NBC News. “A friend who watches too much cable called me wondering whether I’d ever jump into the race late in the game if Democrats were choosing an unelectable nominee. I listed all the reasons I could not possibly do that and would not — and will not under any circumstances — do that.”

Kerry has publicly endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary and has campaigned with him in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He previously ran for president in 2004, winning the Democratic primary but losing the general election to incumbent President George W. Bush.

He told NBC News in January that he was focused on Biden's path to the nomination, which has fallen into doubt in the minds of analysts in the face of Sanders's surging poll numbers in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and other key primary states.

"Right now, [I'm] entirely focused on helping Joe Biden become president, and I'm very happy doing what I'm doing," he said in January.

The Sanders campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on Kerry's reported remarks.