John Boehner had told Biden's sister that she should advise him to sit out the 2020 presidential race, called politics a 'blood sport,' book says

john boehner gavel
John Boehner.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • John Boehner told Valerie Biden Owens to advise Joe Biden to forgo a 2020 presidential campaign.

  • The revelation came in the presidential sister's forthcoming book, "Growing Up Biden: A Memoir."

  • Owens revealed in the book that — similar to Boehner — she was concerned about a negative race.

In Washington, DC, it was no secret that Joe Biden yearned for the presidency, despite his 1988 and 2008 campaigns which both failed to gain significant traction.

However, in August 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois tapped Biden — then a longtime Delaware senator — to become his vice presidential running mate, catapulting him to the highest echelons of government after the ticket's successful campaign.

In May 2015, Biden suffered the tragic loss of his 46-year-old son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.

While Biden and his family grieved over the death, the question of his entry into the 2016 presidential campaign lingered for months until October 2015, when the then-vice president announced that he would not mount a bid.

After former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2016 loss to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the party tried to look to a new generation of stars who could navigate the post-Obama era.

Biden still remained in the picture, though.

Valerie Biden Owens, the now-president's sister, revealed in her forthcoming book that former Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio advised her to tell Biden to stay out of the race.

Early excerpts from the book were published in West Wing Playbook.

In the book, "Growing Up Biden: A Memoir," Owens — who ran all of her brother's Senate bids and served as a senior advisor to his successful 2020 campaign — said that the retired GOP lawmaker urged her to persuade Biden to savor his life outside of government service and forgo a rough-and-tumble campaign.

"He's a good man and he has served his country well," the former speaker said of Biden, according to Owens.

Boehner was first elected to the House in 1990 and was its speaker from January 2011 until October 2015; he resigned from the lower chamber at the end of that month.

The ex-speaker reportedly told Owens: "He should just enjoy his life. They will eat him alive. Politics now is a blood sport."

Owens wrote: "Part of me wanted to say to those urging him on, 'Look, he's done enough. Leave him alone.'"

In the book, she wrote of the internal talks that the family had about Biden running for president, with most of the family on board with a campaign.

However, Owens said that she was anxious about the negative tenor of a presidential campaign.

"Jill, Hunter, Ashley, and the grandchildren all wanted him to run," she wrote, while adding that her husband, Jack Owens, also encouraged him to enter the race.

"Joe, you've got to do this," he told the former vice president.

After a rocky start in the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary, and Nevada caucus, Biden went on to decisively win South Carolina, which led to broad victories on Super Tuesday.

On the strength of his post-South Carolina performance, he was able to establish a lead over his main rival, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

After a 2020 general election campaign defined by the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, health care, and racial inequality, Biden went on to defeat then-President Donald Trump that November.

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