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Joe Biden, a bit bitter, gives up his latest campaign

January 4, 2008 | 12:26 pm

Running for president is a tough business, as it should be. Candidates spend long hours wheedling money from people so they can ask others to please vote for them. And those crowds know they have the leverage and they grill the candidates and suck up to them and ask for endless autographs and photos and tell stories about their troubles. And the candidates listen, as they must and should.

And the crowds' cheers are great. And the laudatory introductions. But the days are long. And so are the nights flying somewhere new to start another long day very early. And the fatigue is great.

And only a few win of the many who try.

Delaware's Sen. Joe Biden knew the end of his latest presidential effort was near Thursday night as the Iowa caucus voting began. Biden has spent who knows how many days traveling Iowa and shaking hands and talking earnestly about serious subjects and inane subjects with people he'll never see again.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was visibly frustrated with how the long race had played out. The Times' Peter Wallsten asked the veteran senator why he and other candidates, such as Connecticut's Sen. Chris Dodd, with long records of government experience somehow could never find their way out of the bottom rungs of the Democratic race.

“This," said Biden, "is about celebrity. You’ve never given any of us a chance. You know in your heart I’m more qualified than any of these guys up top. I know you can’t say yes or no, but I know you know.”

He charged that The Times and other newspapers rarely mentioned him in political stories, ensuring his lackluster performance and obscurity. When a reporter suggested that Biden had a chance to make his case to Iowa voters, he shot back that it was a dishonest assertion.

“Don’t be a phony, OK?” he said.

Shortly after that scene, Biden (and Dodd) dropped out of the race. Biden issued this statement:

“I am not going away. I’m returning to the Senate as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will continue to ensure that we protect the nation’s security and show our country that Democrats know how to keep America safe, keep our commitment to our troops and restore our country’s respect in the world.”

-- Andrew Malcolm