Rep. Joe Kennedy III rules out 2020 bid, but encourages big, broad field

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/rep-joe-kennedy-iii-rules-2020-bid-encourages/story?id=60885874

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., has ruled out a 2020 presidential run, despite being the subject of speculation.

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“I’ve got enough on my plate,” the three-term House member said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

“I actually am one of those folks that encourage a big, broad field and that’s because I think we are at a time our country is in a transition, economically, societally, culturally,” Kennedy told Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein.

Kennedy went on to call the upcoming election “critically important.”

“You can feel the parties moving through this and trying to figure out what’s coming next,” Kennedy said. “A big piece of this is having candidates out there that, not only have the values and vision that I think are reflective of our country, but giving the electorate the chance to actually see those candidates.”

Given that he’s not running, Kennedy said he’s open to endorsing the right candidate.

One presumed Democratic candidate is the senior senator from his state, and his former law professor, Elizabeth Warren.

Warren has come under fire recently for claiming a Native American ancestry. A DNA test she took proved otherwise and she’s since publicly apologized.

“I think she was right to issue that apology,” said Kennedy. “She has tried to present a full accounting for this.”

She faced new fallout Wednesday after the Washington Post reported that on a 1986 registration card for the State Bar of Texas she identified as “American Indian.” It prompted another apology.

“Sen. Warren is an incredibly powerful voice to our party politically,” he said, prior to Warren’s apology on Wednesday afternoon. “I will tell you as long as I’ve known her, she is as talented and dedicated a lawyer, teacher, professor and senator that I have ever met.”

On the subject of the current executive branch, Kennedy said he was largely unmoved by the president’s State of the Union address.

“I thought it was not unlike the speech that he gave last year,” he said.

“He spent a couple, you know, half of that speech or so calling for unity,” he said, “half that speech putting down markers for hard core conservative priorities and the other 364 days a year actively trying to divide our country and not caring about the consequences.”

PHOTO: Rep. Joe Kennedy III speaks during the Robert F. Kennedy memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, June 6, 2018.Cliff Owen/AP
Rep. Joe Kennedy III speaks during the Robert F. Kennedy memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, June 6, 2018.

He has proven over and over and over again to be, at best, unreliable and, at worst, somebody that doesn’t have a real desire to keep his word.

Words from Trump don’t hold much weight, according to the congressman.

“He has proven over and over and over again to be, at best, unreliable and, at worst, somebody that doesn’t have a real desire to keep his word,” Kennedy said.

He highlighted the need for Trump to compromise, especially with the chance of another government shutdown looming.

“He has done that at rare moments,” Kennedy said. “We did pass a big criminal justice reform bill that passed both chambers by large majorities.”

Kennedy watched Trump’s address from home since his wife had broken her ankle. This was the second time he was not in attendance, as he gave the Democratic response last year.

His response was generally well-received, though there was public comment about how shiny his lips appeared. Kennedy attributed it to an overly liberal use of lip balm.

He praised Stacey Abrams, who gave this year’s Democratic party response.

“I thought she sounded great, she did great, she looked great,” he said. “And it appeared to me that she left her ChapStick in her bag, which is exactly the advice that I gave her.”

Every Wednesday, ABC Radio and iTunes bring you the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, which includes interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.