October 21, 2015 2:17 PM EDT

For months as Vice President Joe Biden mulled whether to run for the big job, Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic presidential candidates mostly avoided talking publicly about his prospects. But after Biden announced Wednesday that he won’t run, the floodgates of praise quickly opened.

Clinton lauded the Vice President and complimented him on his central role in the Obama Administration. “Joe Biden is a good man and a great Vice President,” she said in a statement.

“As Vice President, Joe has been by President Obama’s side for every pivotal decision,” Clinton added. “He helped save the auto industry and pull our economy back from the brink of depression. He continues to fight for higher wages, safer communities, and a more peaceful world. It’s a record to be proud of, defend, and build on.”

Bernie Sanders had the most to gain from a Biden run, with polls indicating he would have drawn more of his support from Clinton’s column than from the Vermont Senator’s.

“Joe Biden, a good friend, has made the decision that he feels is best for himself, his family and the country. I thank the vice president for a lifetime of public service and for all that he has done for our nation,” Sanders said in a statement. “He understands the need to rebuild the middle class; and to address income and wealth inequality, a corrupt campaign finance system, climate change, racial justice, immigration reform and the need for publicly-funded higher education.”

But for the presidential candidates, this is not goodbye: Biden made clear in his speech that he intends to continue to influence the race. In his speech he advocated for 16 years of free public education (likely including college) and increased taxes for the wealthy. And he could be an important campaign surrogate for the Democratic nominee.

“I am confident that history isn’t finished with Joe Biden,” Clinton said. “And if I know Joe, he will always be on the front-lines, always fighting for all of us.”

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