Is Kerry planning a presidential bid?

Former Secretary of State overheard explaining what he would have to do to enter presidential race, but denies he is planning such a move.

Elad Benari ,

John Kerry
John Kerry

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry was overheard on Sunday on the phone at a Des Moines hotel explaining what he would have to do to enter the presidential race amid "the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole."

Kerry, who was sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel in Des Moines, was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying, "Maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here" and explaining that in order to run, he'd have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches.

Kerry also said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to "raise a couple of million," adding that such donors "now have the reality of Bernie."

Asked about the call later on Sunday, Kerry said that he was "absolutely not" contemplating joining the Democratic primary race. He later tweeted, “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 told NBC News later on Sunday, "This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation. 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."

Kerry, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 and lost to President George W. Bush, last month endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president in the 2020 race.

The Biden team on Sunday denied concerns about Kerry's support.

"Everyone knows that John Kerry is all in for us," Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, told NBC News.

When he endorsed Biden, Kerry said he was confident that “Joe will defeat Donald Trump next November. He's the candidate with the wisdom and standing to fix what Trump has broken, to restore our place in the world, and improve the lives of working people here at home.”

Kerry has consistently ripped Trump since Trump has taken office, particularly over the President’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Kerry orchestrated during his time as Secretary of State.

In November of 2017, Kerry warned Congress that it would be "extraordinarily dangerous" for it to reject the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

He subsequently warned that Trump risked driving Iran towards nuclear proliferation if he cancels the deal.

Last year, Kerry said that if he could speak to Trump directly, he would tell him to "resign”.

Trump has fired back at Kerry, particularly over his meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an effort to save the Iran deal, saying the meetings were illegal.

Kerry has justified his meetings with Iranian officials, arguing that every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders.