Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, one of the Democratic party’s leading voices on foreign policy and a sharp critic of President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, on Tuesday said he intends to run for president in 2008.
“It is my intention to seek the nomination, and it’s my intention sometime in the month of January to set up the appropriate mechanism to be able to raise money for that purpose,” Biden said in a telephone news conference that centered on Iraq.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama currently are viewed as the leading likely contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, which will be decided in early 2008.
Bush’s term ends in January, 2009, and he is barred from seeking a third four-year term.
Speaking to reporters, Biden called Iraq “President Bush’s war” and said if the violence did not abate Bush’s fellow Republicans would face defeat in 2008 congressional elections unless they started pushing for change.
Biden, who sought the 1988 presidential nomination only to quit in 1987 amid accusations he plagiarized some of his stump oratory and early academic work, would enter the race as some prominent Democrats are bowing out.
Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana earlier this month announced he would forego the 2008 campaign. His decision came after Obama attracted large crowds in New Hampshire, one of the early states to choose presidential nominees in 2008.
The perceived star power of Obama and Clinton could make it difficult for other Democrats to amass campaign contributions needed for a successful White House run.
Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is expected to announce his candidacy this week. Edwards was running mate in 2004 to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in his failed bid to unseat Bush.
As the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden will have a forum for criticizing Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. Biden said his panel is planning three weeks of high-profile hearings starting on January 9.
Biden blasted a proposal Bush is considering to boost U.S. combat forces in Iraq to try to stem the violence, telling reporters: “We’ve already broken Iraq. We’re about to break the United States military.”
Bush is preparing to announce a new policy on Iraq in early January.
The 64-year-old senator, who was first elected to the Senate in 1972, said Bush should follow recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which called for reducing the U.S. military presence to encourage Iraqis to take more responsibility to establish a political settlement among warring factions.
Former President Jimmy Carter, in an October interview with Reuters, said Biden was “probably the foremost expert now on foreign policy and has a most clear concept of what we ought to do to get out of Iraq.” Carter, a Democrat, added that he was not endorsing Biden or any other potential contender.
Two Democrats already have announced long-shot runs for president: Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an unsuccessful candidate in 2004.
(Additional reporting by Adam Tanner in San Francisco)
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