By Jordan Fabian - 12-22-16 18:33 PM EST
Vice President Biden believes Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election in part because she never figured why she was running for the nation's highest office.
"I don't think she ever really figured it out," Biden told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Thursday. "And by the way, I think it was really hard for her to decide to run."
As evidence, the vice president pointed to similar concerns raised privately by Clinton allies in hacked emails that were published by Wikileaks in the midst of the campaign.
But he said it was unfair to solely blame Clinton for her loss. He said Clinton saw a noble purpose in her campaign, feeling an obligation to help pave the way for women in politics just as President Obama did for black people.
"She thought she had no choice but to run," he said. "That, as the first woman who had an opportunity to win the presidency, I think it was a real burden on her."
Still, Biden's comments contain some of the most direct criticism of Clinton's campaign from a high-ranking member of the Obama White House.
The vice president stumped for Clinton dozens of times throughout the course of the campaign.
But Biden said he had a sneaking feeling that Donald Trump could pull off a victory by the way he energized crowds in white, working-class areas, like near Biden's birthplace of Scranton, Pa.
"Son of a gun. We may lose this election," Biden recalled thinking. "They're all the people I grew up with. They're their kids. And they're not racist. They're not sexist. But we didn't talk to them."
He said the Democratic Party as a whole suffered because "we were not letting an awful lot of people - high school-educated, mostly Caucasian, but also people of color - know that we understood their problems."
There is "a bit of elitism that's crept in" to party thinking, he said.
At the same time, he said Trump did not do a better job than Clinton on offering solutions for working-class people.
"I don't think he understands working-class or middle-class people," Biden said. "He at least acknowledged the pain. But he played to the prejudice. He played to the fear. He played to the desperation.
"There was nothing positive that I ascertained when he spoke to these folks that was uplifting."
The vice president considered challenging Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, where he would have coupled his middle-class message with his everyman appeal.
But Biden ultimately opted not to run, saying he couldn't build a winning campaign while mourning the death of his son, Beau.
Biden, 74, has refused to rule out a future run for office, although he has downplayed the possibility on several occasions.
He said he plans to live in Washington part-time while his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, continues to teach at a Northern Virginia community college.
The vice president is also exploring the possibility of setting up an office at the University of Pennsylvania to continue his post-White House work.