As he inches closer to deciding whether he’ll enter the 2016 race, Vice President Joe Biden provided new details today on the deliberations over the Osama bin Laden raid, seemingly revising his position on one of the most important decisions of the Obama administration.
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Speaking at a forum honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale, Biden said he privately advised the president to go forward with the 2011 raid, a decision he previously has said he opposed.
During the forum, Biden recounted the national security meeting the president held to decide whether to conduct the raid.
In that meeting, Biden had suggested more surveillance was needed before a raid was launched, but today Biden said he told the president privately that he supported the raid after the meeting concluded.
“As we walked out of the room and we walked upstairs, I told him my opinion that I thought he should go but to follow his own instincts,” Biden said. “But it would have been a mistake, imagine if I had said in front of everyone, 'don't go, or go,' and his decision was a different decision. It undercuts that relationship so I never on a difficult issue, never say what I think finally until I go up in the Oval with him alone.”
This tracks differently from how the vice president described the decision in years past when he publicly admitted he opposed the raid that resulted in the al Qaeda founder's death.
"He got to me. He said, 'Joe, what do you think?' And I said, 'You know, I didn't know we had so many economists around the table.' I said, 'We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don't go. We have to do two more things to see if he's there," Biden recalled in 2012.
Biden lauded the president’s final decision, saying, “He knew what was at stake, not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency.”
Biden’s potential 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton wrote about Biden’s skepticism of the raid in her book, “Hard Choices.” In last week’s debate, Clinton talked about the raid as she touted her role advising the president.
“I think while you're talking about the tough decision that President Obama had to make about Osama bin Laden, where I was one of his few advisers,” she said.