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Posts tagged ‘Biden’

McCain Praises Biden’s Work on Foreign Aid.

Image: McCain Praises Biden's Work on Foreign Aid

By Melanie Batley

Sen. John McCain offered effusive praise to Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony honoring his commitment to foreign aid, calling him a “good man” and an “honorable and dedicated public servant.”

“Vice President Biden deserves our gratitude and respect for his many years of effective leadership in ensuring that all the resources America has to influence the course of world events are funded adequately and used effectively,” the Arizona Republican and longtime friend of Biden said Thursday night, The Hill reports.

Biden was being honored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition for his commitment to America’s global role throughout his service as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as vice president.

McCain added that Biden deserves a “share of the credit” for the advancement of U.S. values across the world during the forty years the two of them have been friends. McCain added that he has never “doubted for a moment that the United States of America is fortunate to be served by as able, articulate, honest, dedicated and impassioned a world leader as my friend Joe Biden.”

Biden took the opportunity at the ceremony to denounce isolationism and he pondered whether the effort after World War II to repair Europe would have passed in today’s Congress.

“Think about what some of the isolationist voices you hear today . . . would be saying if we had just gone through a war engaging 12 million Americans, with tens of thousands of losses, if we said we want to appropriate $13 billion,” he said at the event.

Biden also offered praise of his own to former GOP President George W. Bush, saying that he deserves “so much more credit than he gets” for his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Biden has been widely touted as a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016, but early polls show him trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a significant margin.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

White House Vetted Participants in Biden Live Immigration Chat.

Image: White House Vetted Participants in Biden Live Immigration Chat

By Melanie Batley

Participants in a recent live Skype chat with Vice President Joe Biden on immigration reform were pre-selected and vetted by the White House, despite the event being billed as a chance for anyone to speak with him directly.

According to PoliticoSkype preselected participants and submitted the list to the White House to review. Initially, Skype spokesman Chaim Haas told Politico that “a bunch” on the list were ultimately rejected.

“They rejected a bunch and then the others were used.”

But then Haas later emailed Politico to say that he was mistaken, that only one person on the list was actually removed.

Haas said Skype selected people that are active in the immigration debate and did not know who at the White House was responsible for reviewing participants.

“It was less the questions being asked; it was the people who we had proposed for the live questions that they didn’t like,” Haas said initially.

A Biden aide said the vice president was not aware of what questions would be asked or who would be asking them, and that the vice president’s office was only concerned about eliminating one participant who was a Capitol Hill staffer.

MSN/ Bing controlled every aspect of the Skype chat, including the selection of the moderator, participants and questions asked,” the aide said. “The vice president’s office never saw a question in advance of the chat. Skype selected the panelists independently and the vice president’s office only raised a concern about one potential panelist because she was a Democratic Hill staffer.”

That staffer was not allowed to participate in the chat.

The online event, which also included White House domestic policy chief Cecilia Munoz, was part of the administration’s strategy to renew interest in the immigration debate after momentum for reform stalled in the House.

During the event, Biden called on House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in June.

“He is unwilling to let the House speak, he is unwilling to let the House vote,” Biden said, according to Politico. “John Boehner, call up the bill.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Biden to Japanese Women: ‘Do Your Husbands Like You Working?’.

During a tour of an Internet company in Japan Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden asked a group of women, “Do your husbands like you working full-time?”

Biden asked the question of five women while sitting with them in the cafeteria of Tokyo-based DeNa, a company founded by a woman and known for encouraging women to continue working through motherhood, according to The Wall Street Journal.

He also asked whether they could work from home. It wasn’t clear if any of the women replied at the time.

The visit was intended to promote the role of women in the workforce, an initiative by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is looking to increase the participation of women in the workforce as part of his broader strategy to boost the ailing Japanese economy. In Japan, 60 percent of women never return to the workforce after giving birth, the Journal reported.

“I, too, compliment Prime Minister Abe on his initiatives to bring more women into the workforce, stay in the workforce and give them more opportunities,” Biden said, according to the Journal.

Biden was accompanied during his visit by Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, who last week said she was impressed with Abe’s workforce policy initiative centered on women.

“I believe the prime minister understands that this is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue. It’s a family issue, an economic and a national security issue, and it’s a moral issue,” Kennedy said, according to the Journal.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

Biden Heads to Asia Amid Tensions over China Air Zone.

Vice President Joe Biden headed to Asia on Sunday amid heightened tensions over China’s newly-declared air defense zone.

During a stop in Beijing, Biden will highlight “areas of concern, including regional tensions,” the White House said in a statement.

More broadly, the trip to Japan, China and South Korea was planned to emphasize Washington’s “enduring presence as a Pacific power… and underscore our commitment to rebalancing US foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific,” the statement added.

The vice president’s plane, Air Force Two, started rolling down the runway at 5:03 pm. Biden is set to return to Washington on December 7.

Senior administration officials said this week that Biden plans to convey Washington’s “concerns” about China’s air defense zone and seek clarity regarding its intentions with the move.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier that he would discuss the issue with Biden in Tokyo, after apparently contradictory responses.

China raised regional tensions with its November 23 declaration of the zone, which covers islands in the East China Sea at the center of a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo. It demands that all aircraft submit flight plans when traversing the area.

Tokyo has stopped Japanese airlines from handing flight plans to Beijing, but Washington said it generally expected US carriers to follow notification policies issued by foreign countries.

In addition to meeting with leaders of the three countries, Biden will also speak with civil society representatives.

In Tokyo, he will meet women at a local technology company, and in Seoul, he will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the US alliance with South Korea and deliver a speech at Yonsei University.

President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, pledged in his first term to “pivot” US foreign policy toward Asia.

But he called off a trip to the region in October to negotiate with Republicans who shut down the US government in a failed bid to stop his signature health care reform.

Obama is now slated to visit the region in April.


© AFP 2013


Biden In One Day, Out the Next Among Obama’s Inner Circle.

Image: Biden In One Day, Out the Next Among Obama's Inner Circle

When President Barack Obama summoned congressional leaders for an urgent meeting last month, at the height of a fiscal crisis, Joe Biden wasn’t initially mentioned as a participant. The vice president‘s staff quickly followed up with reporters, in case any had been wondering: Biden would be there, too.

On another occasion, Biden was at a sandwich shop boasting that Delaware’s subs are superior to those in Chicago and Philadelphia. He let the crowd know he couldn’t linger. “The president is waiting,” he announced to the room. “I’m having lunch with him today.”

The two moments are emblematic of a vice president who has sought to make himself as central as possible in the orbit of influence in the White House, without overstepping the vice president’s role in ways he has said had left a terrible aftertaste from the Bush White House.

It’s a delicate balance that has at times paid off for Biden. Obama has turned to his leadership and judgment at critical junctures in his presidency, validating Biden both publicly and privately.

At other times, it’s meant being relegated to lower-profile tasks or conspicuously absent at key moments, such as during the problem-plagued health overhaul rollout.

Constitutionally, the vice president has only as much power as the president cares to give him or her. But as Obama’s two-term deputy, Biden will see his political fortunes forever linked to the president, whose approval ratings are sagging amid the health care troubles. How the public ultimately perceives Obama’s presidency — and Biden’s role in it — will be critical to Biden if he runs for president again in 2016, as he plans to consider.

When Time magazine asked Biden what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving, Biden said he was grateful to be someone who wakes up in the morning knowing that what he’s about to do really matters.

“I’m thankful for my personal relationship with the president. I guess it’s a funny way to say it, but it is personal,” Biden said, adding that Obama “has entrusted me with some significant responsibilities.”

In a departure from some previous vice presidents, his aides say, Biden has never sought out specific assignments from the president. A particular topic is not what’s important to Biden. What matters is being where the action is, a key player on the issues of utmost importance to the administration, the aides said.

How you get there matters, too. When he first walked through the doors of the White House, Biden was determined to be different from his immediate predecessor. Dick Cheney’s heavy-handed accumulation of power had drilled a “San Andreas fault” through the Bush administration, Biden said.

“I don’t think the measure is whether or not I accrete the vestiges of power. I think it matters whether or not the president listens to me,” Biden said in January 2009, not long before he was sworn in.

He also said he didn’t want to have a portfolio, consigned to low-priority projects that would underutilize his vast experience built up over decades in the Senate crafting laws and building relationships with world leaders. Nor did he want to lead a task force to reinvent government, Biden said, alluding to an Al Gore initiative that attracted little excitement.

So Biden set his sights on fashioning himself into president’s most influential adviser, aides and friends say, trying to integrate his staff with Obama’s so as to maximize his footprint without creating a competing power center within the White House. Where Cheney had amassed a large national security team reporting to him, Biden returned some of those positions to the president’s national security staff.

Nearly five years later, it’s not hard to find signs that Obama has relied heavily on Biden and his staff at pivotal moments.

Obama called on Biden to lead his gun control campaign, a top priority at the start of the second term. The push in Congress failed, but the vice president emerged as a prominent voice for a signal liberal cause.

Obama has also turned repeatedly to Biden’s brain trust to fill key roles. In January, Obama tapped longtime Biden aide Tony Blinken to be his own deputy national security adviser. The White House sent Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, to meet secretly this year with Iranian officials about a possible nuclear deal while Biden aggressively lobbied his former Senate colleagues to hold off on new sanctions.

And on Sunday, Biden will depart for a week in Asia to meet with key leaders in a region where Obama has prominently committed to ramp up America’s influence. Biden’s visit to China, Japan and South Korea comes two months after Obama had to cancel his own Asia trip because of the partial government shutdown, leaving the White House seeking ways to prove it’s still serious about the Asia rebalance.

“Barack Obama was smart enough when elected president to know he didn’t know everything,” said Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat who’s known Biden since the 1970s and was his partner in Delaware’s Senate delegation. “One of the things he didn’t really have as good of a grasp on was our relationship with leaders around the world.”

Inevitably, Biden has been consumed by lower-profile tasks as well, such as a series of visits to seaports to promote infrastructure and exports, and an engagement effort in Latin America — a region that’s never been prominent on the White House’s radar aside from the immigration debate.

Sen. John McCain, who ran against Obama and Biden in 2008, said were he in Obama’s shoes, he would deploy Biden visibly to address the ongoing health care debacle.

“The whole administration is in trouble,” McCain said in an interview. “The president’s numbers are going down and I don’t frankly know why he doesn’t have Joe Biden out there trying to more visibly work this out.”

The Arizona Republican also credits Biden with forging deals that Obama could not have achieved on his own, like the year-end agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But those previous deals haven’t always aged well with Democrats.

When Biden was missing from October’s efforts to avert and later end the government shutdown, some Democratic senators said they were concerned that if Biden showed up, he’d be too eager to save the day and would hash out a deal that would give away far too much.

The White House disputes that was the reason he wasn’t heavily involved, arguing that Obama had decided he wouldn’t negotiate and didn’t want to send signals to the contrary.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said that as with “Obamacare,” keeping a low profile on the shutdown helped Biden avoid what could be a political burden down the road.

“He stood out of the way,” Brinkley said. “Anybody involved in the shutdown, whose name is synonymous with the shutdown, would have egg on their face.”© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


White House Denies Obama Considered Dropping Biden from 2012 Ticket.

U.S. President Barack Obama never considered the idea of dropping Vice President Joe Biden from his 2012 re-election team and replacing him with Hillary Clinton, the White House said on Friday.

“Double Down,” a new book on the 2012 campaign, says Obama’s top aides considered the notion but decided not to pursue it because it did not materially improve Obama’s odds.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, pressed on the issue at his daily news briefing, did not deny that such an idea was floated within Obama’s re-election campaign.

“Campaigns and pollsters, as part of campaigns, test a lot of things,” he said. “What I can tell you without a doubt is that the president never considered that, and had anyone brought that idea to him, he would have laughed it out of the room.”

Obama feels Biden has been an enormous asset through two presidential campaigns and at the White House, said Carney. Pressed on whether Obama was aware that such an idea was floating within his campaign, he said, “I’m not aware that he was aware of it.”

The book, by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, is to be released on Tuesday, but the New York Times and Washington Post have reported some of its contents.

The saga is significant because both Clinton and Biden are contemplating a race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Biden, who would be the underdog should he and Clinton both run, can ill afford to deal with a narrative in which Obama was thinking about replacing him.

With Biden as his running mate, Obama decisively won the 2012 presidential election over Republican Mitt Romney.

While Biden has shown a tendency toward the occasional gaffe, Obama has relied on him for several major initiatives, such as negotiating a last-minute deal with Republicans that avoided a fiscal crisis at the end of last year.

Visiting Biden’s Pennsylvania hometown of Scranton in August with the vice president, Obama said it was the “best decision I made politically” to pick Biden as his running mate in 2008, “because I love this guy and he’s got heart and he cares about people and he’s willing to fight for what he believes in.”

Bill Daley, the White House chief of staff in late 2011 when aides were talking about replacing Biden, tried to play down the book’s revelation that advisers had conducted focus-group research and polling on such a move.

“I think one of the jobs of chief of staff is to recommend lots of things out of the box,” he said on CBS’s “This Morning” show. “But not for a moment was there a serious discussion or a belief that Joe Biden should be replaced, period. That doesn’t mean issues were not looked at.”

As for whether Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, knew about the effort, Daley said: “Not that I know of.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Biden Visits Anti-War Democrats as Syria Looms.

Vice President Joe Biden is heading into the belly of Democrats’ anti-war opposition, venturing into a politically influential heartland state for the first time since President Barack Obama publicly endorsed a possible military strike on Syria.

Biden is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Iowa Sunday for Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, an annual steak picnic for the senator who is popular with anti-war Democrats.

Even if Biden sidesteps talk of Syria, the issue will be as much a part of the backdrop as the bales of hay and smoke from the grilling steaks, and in a place where he will have to plant his flag should he seek the presidency in 2016.

“That’s going to be a little sensitive,” said eastern Iowa Democrat Richard Machacek, an Obama delegate in 2008, referring to possible military action against Syria. “It flies in the face of what the president campaigned on here.”

President Barack Obama rode an anti-war wave to victory in Iowa’s 2008 presidential caucuses. He had proposed limited air strikes in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack last month against more than 1,400 people in a Damascus suburb. The administration says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s government was behind the attack.

On Saturday Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he and Russia’s foreign minister had reached an agreement to rid Syria of its chemical stockpile. Obama said in a statement the agreement was welcome news, but added that “if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.”

His own party remains cool at best to a military strike. Obama has struggled to win support from members of Congress, including Democrats, whose constituents have endured more than a decade of war.

An Associated Press poll taken Sept. 6-8 showed 34 percent of Democrats said they wanted Congress to back military action. And more than three-fourths of Democrats said they thought any military action in Syria was at least somewhat likely to turn into a long-term commitment of forces, including 44 percent who said it was extremely likely.
The poll was taken before Obama pledged not to deploy ground troops in Syria.

Cedar Falls Democrat David Kabel, an early and devout Obama supporter, is skeptical, even after Obama’s speech. “I just don’t know that you can reel it in once you get started,” he said.

The reaction to anything Biden says about Syria will be closely watched and noted. He is weighing another run for the White House in 2016, and the crowd he mingles with Sunday — many of them familiar with the two-time presidential candidate — will have the opening say during the caucuses.

Including Harkin.

Harkin has said that he was leaning against supporting a military strike, though a vote has been postponed to allow the diplomatic option to develop.

“Harkin has always been the anti-war candidate,” said longtime Iowa Democratic activist Paulee Lipsman. “His strongest supporters agree with that position.”

While Harkin supported limited strikes in Kosovo in 1997 and Libya in 2012 under Democratic presidents, Harkin has largely opposed recent wars under Republican presidents, endearing him to his party’s left.

He voted against the 1991 Gulf War resolution under President George H. W. Bush. And while he voted for the resolution ahead of the 2003 Iraq war under President George W. Bush, he later called the vote a mistake and endorsed anti-war candidate Howard Dean in Iowa’s 2004 presidential caucuses.

Obama made a special appeal during Tuesday’s speech to “my friends on the left,” asking them to consider the images of the hundreds of children who died in the August 21 gas attack. “Sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

He may as well have been speaking directly to those Iowa Democrats who were drawn to his vocal opposition to the war in Iraq, a position that set him apart from chief rival Hillary Clinton and on the path to winning the White House.

Harkin aides and supporters play down any possible outward hostility toward Biden, as he strolls the Warren County fairgrounds south of Des Moines, flips a few steaks for the cameras and speaks Sunday afternoon.

“People will be polite,” Lipsman said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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