January 21st, 2013

VP Biden on relationship with Pres. Obama: “We’re totally simpatico.”

CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger sat down for an exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. In his first network interview since the election, Vice President Biden spoke with Borger about the administration’s key agenda items in the second term, his relationship with the president and his role going forward.  Additional portions of Borger’s interview with the vice president will air on Tuesday, Jan.22 on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET. An embeddable video link and highlight from the interview are below. A highlight from the interview is after the jump.

Visit the CNN Press Room for additional highlights from the network’s special coverage of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama:

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger

Highlight from the Interview:

BIDEN: Well, you know, it was a — a — there wasn’t a moment, but it was a — I can tell you what made it work. What made it work is that, uh, if you go back to the days when we were actually competing for the nomination, all those debates we had, the only two people that didn’t disagree on any subject were Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So when we got into this deal, we didn’t have what other administrations have had, where the vice president and the president have a different take on the major issues of the day. We’re totally simpatico. And what developed, and it made it easier, was, uh, it went from a — um, working with each other to a friendship. I mean we actually — real trust built.

BORGER: We know, though, that you have disagreed with the president over policy. You know how to read him pretty well. So, how can you tell when you’ve done something that he doesn’t like or that makes him angry?

BIDEN: Oh, that’s easy. That’s easy. The one thing about the relationship you can probably, you have a lot of contacts. We made a deal early on, when either one of us are dissatisfied we just flat tell the other person.
And so one — lunch once a week, uh, you know, that’s when we talk. And, uh, when he hasn’t liked something I’ve done, he just flat tells me.

BORGER: He says, Joe, you shouldn’t have done that?

BIDEN: He says, Joe — no, he says, Joe, look, I — you know, I — I don’t agree with the way you did that. You, you know, why did you do A, B, C or D? Or he will say, or I will say, hey, look, man, I don’t like the way this is going, this is what we, you know, that — so there — there’s complete openness. But now, you know, we haven’t disagreed on — we sometimes disagreed on tactic as to how to proceed to try to get what he wanted done, which I’ve agreed with. Um, but we’ve never disagreed on policy.

BORGER: But you got out in front of him on it.

BIDEN: Well…

BORGER: That can be a problem.

BIDEN: Well, I can tell you how I responded. I walked into the office and he got up, smiled, gave me a big hug and he said, now, I’ll tell you what, man, that’s one of the things I like about you, you say what’s on your mind.

BORGER: You said it caused…


BORGER: — a little apoplexy around here.

BIDEN: It did, but not with him. Not with him.

BORGER: Are you the only one who can cut deals with the Republicans now?

BIDEN: No, no, no. Look, first of all, the only reason I’d be able to close any deal is because everybody knows I speak for the president. I have his — I have his complete, uh, support for what I’m saying, because I know what he wants, number one.

Number two, you know, I think the reason why we make a good team, uh, you know, Tip O’Neill used to say, you’ll recall, politics is local. And you’ve heard me say it.

I seldom disagree with Tip O’Neill, God rest his soul. But all politics is personal. It’s all personal. And it’s based on trust.

And I have spent a lot of time in this town. And I have personal relationships with people I strongly disagree, but there’s trust.

And so I’m a logical person, a logical person to, as they say — or you guys say — close the deal. But it’s the president. It’s not me.


BIDEN: It’s the president.

BORGER: — but it’s no secret that you and the president are very different people. You’re hot, he’s cool.


BORGER: You’re a — you’re a natural back slapper, he’s been accused of being more insular.

Is this something — has the president sort of, uh, does the marriage work because the marriage is of opposites?

BIDEN: Well, look, I — I think what you hope — and he — he used this phrase one time, that, um, uh, we, uh, we kind of make up for whatever weaknesses the other guy has. And I’ve got a hell of a lot more weaknesses than he does.

Um, the one place that I — I just have had a lot of experience, um, with all of the people we deal with. And, um, you know, it — everybody talks about well, it’s, you know, it’s back slapping, it’s — it’s old pol — it’s not. It’s trust. It’s simple, simple trust. Find a single person — and you know this town better — who will look you in the eye and say I don’t trust Joe Biden. I’ve built my whole career, my whole career, on never, never, never doing anything with someone I’m dealing with in the opposite position without being completely straightforward with them.

And it’s just that I’ve been around longer and they know me. And — but they also know I speak for him. And he will keep whatever commitment I make on his behalf.