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"We're ready to take anybody on": Joe Biden teases presidential run in speech to fire fighters

Biden speaks amid chants of "Run, Joe! Run!"

Amid persistent chants of "Run Joe Run," former Vice President Joe Biden teased a possible presidential bid while speaking to the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Several times during his remarks, which could have been easily confused for a campaign rally, Biden alluded to a potential run, telling the crowd "we're ready to take anybody on."

Biden, thanking the crowd their enthusiasm and energy, told them to "save it a little longer, I may need it in a few weeks."

Former VP Joe Biden Addresses Int'l Association Of Fire Fighters Conference
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters cheer as former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the group's legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. WIN MCNAMEE / Getty Images

"Be careful what you wish for," he added while laughing as the crowd applauded. Biden is reportedly very close to making a final decision about a run, and new polling indicates that the former vice president now leads among 2020 Democratic candidates in Iowa without even making his campaign official. According to multiple people familiar with his planning, a formal kickoff for Biden's run is expected by mid-April

Biden's comments to the group come a day after his fellow Delawarian, Sen. Chris Coons, told "CBS This Morning" that he was "confident" and "optimistic" that Biden would be running. 

"Joe Biden is someone who sees the differences in our country and inspires us, reminds us of the ways in which we have overcome them in the past and will lift us up," Coons said.

Biden appealed to the crowd of workers, slamming attempts to end collective bargaining for public workers. "I don't see any reason why you should be denied the right to collective bargaining. Who the hell are these guys?...Why are we even having this argument?" said Biden. 

He later blasted Mr. Trump's recent budget proposals, criticized sweeping cuts to Medicare and Medicaid programs and "excessive" tax breaks for the wealthy. 

"Did you see the budget that was just introduced? It cuts $845 billion...in Medicare and $240 billion in Medicaid. Why? Because of a tax cut for the super wealthy that created a deficit of $1.9 trillion and now they've got to make somebody pay for it."

"Trading medicare and medicaid for tax breaks...how's that going to help the people in this room?" Biden questioned. 

The former vice president ended his speech, urging those assembled to "remember what makes this nation so special."

"America is an idea, an idea that goes back to our founding," said Biden. "There's no reason why we can't own the 21st century the rest of the world needs us to lead."

Upon leaving the stage to a room of loud applause, Biden shouted: "It's time to get up, remember who the hell we are."