Feb 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

John Kerry on NBC report: I am absolutely not running for president

John Kerry with Joe Biden in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, December 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted that any report saying he plans to run for president is "f--king ... false" before deleting the tweet and reposting his strong denial minus the expletive. Twitter users saved screenshots of the original post.

Driving the news: The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and supporter of 2020 candidate Joe Biden issued the denial after NBC reported he allegedly discussed the move on the phone while talking about the "possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole."

Why it matters: Kerry's comments come on the eve of the Iowa caucuses and as Bernie Sanders overtakes Biden as the 2020 Democratic candidate getting the most attention online.

  • The reported call raises questions "about whether Kerry doubted Biden's candidacy and viewed Sanders as unstoppable," Politico notes.

The allegations: "Sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel, Kerry was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying 'maybe I'm f--king deluding myself here' and explaining that to run, he'd have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches," NBC reports.

  • "Kerry said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to 'raise a couple of million,' adding that such donors 'now have the reality of Bernie.'"

What he's saying: "This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation," Kerry told NBC News later Sunday.

  • "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."

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Driving the news: Sanders and Buttigieg both claimed wins in the Iowa caucuses — a major test of 2020 candidates' voter appeal — on Thursday, despite evidence of inaccurate and error-riddled results reported by AP and the New York Times.