(Bloomberg) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden made a verbal slip on Saturday and almost referred to himself as a presidential candidate as he edges toward entering the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. 

“I have the most progressive record of anybody running,” he told a room full of family and friends gathered for a Delaware Democratic Party dinner, stopping himself just before he referred to what he might be running for. The home state crowd responded with cheers, and after a few seconds playing up the situation, he added, “anybody who would run.”

Biden has made clear in recent public appearances and to allies that he is planning to run. He’s expected to wait until early April to announce so that he’ll have nearly three full months to raise money before filing his first quarterly fundraising disclosure.

His slip came as he defended his advocacy for what he called the “Delaware way” -- treating Republicans with respect even if he disagrees with them. He’s been criticized by fellow Democrats for speaking generously of Republicans, including a recent declaration that his successor as vice president, Mike Pence, is a “decent guy.” He walked back that comment amid criticism from a range of Democrats, including LGBT supporters, who object to Pence’s record on gay rights. 

“For this democracy to work, you have to arrive at consensus. Period,” Biden said. “Without consensus, nothing can get done for people. And that means you need to listen to the other guy, the other woman. And respect one another no matter how badly you disagree.”

Biden suggested that if he runs, he’ll propose a “new corporate ethic.” He didn’t get into details but said “you’re going to hear a hell of a lot about it from me.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Washington at jepstein32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Linus Chua, Virginia Van Natta

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