Joe Biden uses potential 2020 presidential run to promote new book

NBC News’ “Today” resembled a Joe Biden 2020 presidential election launch party on Monday, but the former vice president was using the platform to promote his upcoming book. The result: over 25 minutes of free publicity.

The former vice president was asked about running for president numerous times throughout the show, and said he isn’t “closing the door” on the idea. Media watchdogs should get used to this line of questioning, as Biden’s appearance on “Today” was the start of a media tour to promote his new book, “Promise Me, Dad,” which will be released on Tuesday.

While Biden presumably will discuss running in 2020 anytime he’s interviewed in the near future, NBC went all in and appeared to expect some type of formal announcement. It’s common for an author to be promised multiple appearances during “Today” when promoting a book, but Media Research Center senior analyst Kyle Drennen pointed out that the NBC crew “was giddy at the prospect” that the 2020 Democratic candidate might have been in their presence.

Co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie sat down with Biden for a lengthy interview that featured questions on everything from gun control to whether the former vice president vents or complains to President Barack Obama when President Donald Trump does things to unravel his legacy.

Instead of an interview, it was billed as an NBC “exclusive live event” and featured an assortment of questions from audience members as “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb walked around the crowd with a microphone. Carson Daly promoted the hashtag “#BidenToday,” and encouraged Twitter users to chime in with questions of their own.

Biden constantly was set up to either mock Trump or promote himself, with questions such as, “What is one thing, if any, that you believe [Trump] is doing well as president?”

The former vice president struggled to come up with a specific compliment for the current president but promised, “I’m not being a wise guy.” Biden also reminded viewers that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and was close to winning the presidency.

Lauer ended the “exclusive live event” by polling the studio audience if it “sounds like” Biden will run in 2020. “Predictably, the entire audience raised their hands,” Drennen wrote.

Despite the enthusiasm, Biden didn’t make any sort of announcement.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event prior to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event prior to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) (The Associated Press)

Next up, Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” where Kelly kicked things off with pre-packaged video detailing Biden’s life story. NBC’s newest host eventually read a list of things that Biden critics would say if he decides to challenge Trump for the White House. He teased the audience by saying the Rust Belt prefers him over Trump, but declined to say if he officially will run for president despite Kelly’s best effort.

“Promise Me, Dad” is about Biden’s son Beau’s tragic battle with brain cancer — but viewers should expect questions about the 2020 election whenever he appears on TV to promote it.

Biden will be 75 years old next week, and 77 when primaries begin in 2020.