Rep. Tim Ryan won't back off comment that Biden is 'declining'

Long-shot Democratic presidential contender Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio declined to elaborate Saturday on his claim earlier this week that former Vice President Joe Biden “is declining."

“I have some concerns with a lot of the candidates,” Ryan told reporters, adding “I really don't want to get too much into that because I love the vice president.”

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But Ryan said, “it’s unclear sometimes when he’s (Biden) articulating positions and I’ll leave it at that.”

On Thursday, Ryan told Bloomberg News that he didn’t think the 76-year old Biden "has the energy" to be president.

"You see it almost daily," Ryan said. "And I love the guy.”

Ryan later claimed that he didn’t realize he was speaking with a reporter.

Taking questions from reporters after his speech Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual convention in Manchester, Ryan said of his comments from Thursday that “that's the perception that people are getting from the vice president, the declining and the issues.”

Asked if he meant declining in health or declining in the polls, the longtime congressman from northeast Ohio answered: “I don't really want to get into that too much.”

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He insisted that wasn’t “backtracking” from his earlier comments, emphasizing “I don’t need to bang everyone over the head with it.”

But, Ryan said, “we have got to have a very crisp, sharp, articulate message for the people going into the fall with Donald Trump. We have got to energize our base. And we've got a pull Trump voters in. And I believe I'm the best person to do that. That's why I got into this race and I believe that I'm better equipped to do that than Joe Biden is. And that's what I'm saying.”

Fox News reached out to Biden’s presidential campaign, but they declined to respond.

Biden’s campaign has spelled trouble for Ryan ever since the former vice president jumped into the race in late April.

Ryan’s a center-left candidate who touts his heartland heritage and his ability to connect with the white working-class voters in the Rust Belt who helped elect Trump in 2016  by giving him crucial states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

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But Biden also highlights his working-class roots and his ability to connect with blue-collar voters.

While Biden remains the clear front-runner in the 2020 Democratic race, Ryan has struggled to gain traction since declaring his candidacy, failing to qualify to make the stage at next week’s third Democratic primary debate in Houston.