John Kerry is putting it in no uncertain terms this time: He’s not running for president.
The former U.S. secretary of state and Massachusetts senator forcefully — and rather colorfully — refuted a report Sunday that he was overheard discussing a late entrance into the Democratic presidential primary race.
“As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for President,” Kerry wrote Sunday afternoon on Twitter. “Any report otherwise is f***ing (or categorically) false.”
The tweet was deleted within minutes (though not before it was noticed by countless social media users) and replaced by a less profane version, reiterating the same message.
As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for President. Any report otherwise is 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.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) February 2, 2020
Kerry, who has endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 race, had reportedly been overheard by an NBC News analyst Sunday at a hotel in Iowa explaining over the phone all the things he would have to do to launch his own presidential bid, in the midst of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s recent ascent in the polls.
According to NBC News, Kerry — who won the Democratic nomination in 2004 — was heard saying “maybe I’m f***ing deluding myself here” and explaining that he would have to step down from his board position at Bank of America, give up his ability to make paid speeches, and “raise a couple of million” from wealthy donors that are perhaps skittish about “the reality of Bernie.”
Still, Kerry says that doesn’t mean he’s actually considering a 2020 run.
“This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation,” he 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.”
There were some rumors in late 2018 that Kerry was considering a 2020 bid, but he never appeared to take any serious steps at a campaign. And while Kerry never issued a categorical denial like he did Sunday, the 76-year-old (who was promoting a book at the time) repeatedly said at the time that he doubted he would run for office again.
That said, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Kerry’s comments Sunday are emblematic of a still-unsettled Democratic primary race that has seen other candidates make late entrances and been shaped by the recent surge of Sanders. Biden’s supporters have continued to argue that the 77-year-old former vice president still has been best chance to defeat Donald Trump.
“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 wrote Sunday.