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Joe Biden Spends a Lot of Time With Obama, and Other Highlights From His Rolling Stone Interview

Image credit: Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

Rolling Stone has published an interview with Vice President Joe Biden, and it has about as many moments of pure Bidenness as one would expect from an hour-long chat between the outspoken VP and a music magazine.

Biden got into some policy talk, and he dropped some vintage Bidenisms. (The word "Jesus" was used at least once, as was "Lord.")

Some highlights:

He spends a lot of time with the president. A whole lot. As in, four or five hours a day, and the VP said he's in every meeting:

I spend an average of four to five hours a day with him, every single day. … So it's been a really good relationship, and everybody knows that - around here and around the world. Think about it: Even our critics have never said that when I speak, no one doubts that I speak for the president. I speak for the president because of the relationship. And the only way that works is if you're around all the time. Literally, every meeting he has, I'm in. You don't have to wonder what the other guy's thinking; I don't have to guess where the president's going. So it's been really great. Once a week, no matter what, we sit down for between 35 minutes and as long as an hour and a half, depending on what we have to say.

Four senators have approached Biden to say they now support gun background checks, he told Rolling Stone:

My argument was, "You've got it wrong. The public has changed." And guess what? It turns out we were right. To use the vernacular, there's suddenly a lot of senators out there who have seen the Lord. You find out that the senator from New Hampshire is in trouble; she voted no. I can name you four senators who called me and said, "Jesus, I guess you were right - maybe we can find some other way of doing this. Can we bring this back up?"

On gay marriage, Biden said he knew Obama agreed with him:

And I'm not stunned; it's where the public's been for a while. Talk to any of your kids, for God's sake. … I got blowback from everybody but the president. I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, "Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think." I knew he agreed with me. It wasn't like he was in a different place. My point is: That's where the public is on guns. There has been a seminal shift in the attitude of the American public toward gun safety.

On Syria, Biden said he doesn't want to follow the Bush administration's lead of claiming "weapons of mass destruction":

With all the credibility we've gained in the world, we don't want to blow it like the last administration did in Iraq, saying "weapons of mass destruction." We know that there have been traces found of what are probably chemical weapons. What we don't know yet - and we're drilling down on it as hard as we can - is whether they were accidentally released in an exchange of gunfire or artillery fire, or blown up or something. We also don't have a chain of ownership. We don't know for certain whether they were used by some of the opposition, including the radicals who have aligned themselves with al Qaeda. It's probable, but we don't know for certain, that they were used by the regime.

Of John McCain, Biden said:

Now, I love John McCain - I just went out to do an event for him. We used to be close friends, and we're trying to get that back a little bit. Campaigns have a way of causing those things to wane.

Of his speech calling the alleged Boston bombers "two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knock-off jihadis," Biden said his point was to downplay al Qaeda:

I actually wrote that speech. I wanted to communicate two things: first, to make it clear that there is not this sort of gigantic, coordinated network run by Al Qaeda that has cells all around the country and, second, that the republic is not in jeopardy and there's no reason for us to jettison the Constitution and erect a police state in order to protect people. The moment we change, they win.

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