Kerry unloads on NBC after report he was overheard talking about 2020 bid

DES MOINES, Iowa — John Kerry is supposed to be stumping for Joe Biden.

But the former Secretary of State caused a kerfuffle Sunday after NBC News published a story detailing a phone call Kerry had in a hotel lobby here. Kerry was overheard by an NBC analyst apparently strategizing how he could enter the presidential race now that there was “the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole.”

In the conversation, which took place in the Renaissance Savery hotel downtown, Kerry reportedly said, “maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here,” then went on to explain the steps he would have to take if he jumped into the fray, including hitting up wealthy donors who might be frightened by Sanders’ rise.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president and former secretary of State, emphatically denied he had renewed White House aspirations, tweeting "any report otherwise is f---ing (or categorically) false.”

He later deleted the tweet with the expletive and re-posted a full statement adamantly denying he had any interest in running and that he was fully behind Biden’s candidacy.

“As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for president. Any report otherwise is categorically false. I’ve been proud to campaign with my good friend Joe Biden, who is going to win the nomination, beat Trump, and make an outstanding president," he wrote.

Coming on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, news of the reported call raised questions about whether Kerry doubted Biden’s candidacy and viewed Sanders as unstoppable. Kerry said his words were taken out of context, given only one side of the conversation could be heard.

"This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation,” Kerry told NBC News. “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.”