Biden: Bush 'Appeasement' Quip Is 'Raw Politics'

The former presidential candidate isn't ready to endorse Obama or Clinton.

May 18, 2008 — -- Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., spoke this morning against President Bush's claim that those who want to negotiate with terrorists are taking the false comfort of appeasement.

"This is raw, raw politics, demeaning to the presidency of the United States of America," Biden said in an exclusive interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Biden explained his belief that the comments made to the Israeli parliament were targeted at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. "I mean, literally, imagine what our friends, even our foes in the capitals from Paris to Tokyo thought, seeing the president of the United States in the Knesset, attacking another senator."

Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, backed Obama's plan to engage in unconditional talks with the Iranians. "You either talk, you go to war, or you maintain the status quo," he explained. "What's the alternative to talking with a country that's building a nuclear weapon, attempting to, that, in fact, is helping kill Americans by supporting elements in Iraq that are killing Americans?"

Biden also said that Bush should fire Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being so-called "appeasers." "They both -- Gates, as recently as a week ago -- said, we've got to sit down and talk with the Iranians directly," Biden said.

When asked if the president's comments were hypocritical, Biden explained he was "trying to be more polite, but I shouldn't be. It was ridiculous."

Despite defending Obama, Biden confirmed he is still not ready to endorse Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. "I made a commitment to both of them ... They each asked me to be part of their campaign, right after I got out of the campaign. I said, 'I will make one commitment; I will not endorse either one of you, and I'll be available to both of you,'" Biden, a former presidential candidate, explained.

But Biden noted his belief that the prolonged race is not harming the Democratic Party in the long run. When asked how long it will take to unify the party, once a nominee is determined, Biden said it would happen "immediately." And while he did not confirm that Obama is the likely nominee, he explained that "I am absolutely, positively, thoroughly confident that, if Barack is the winner, she [Clinton] will embrace him and she'll campaign like hell for him."

Biden declined to comment on whether Obama should pick Clinton as his running mate, if he, indeed, wins the nomination, saying "that's a judgment he's got to make."

But he pointed out that even if Clinton is not the nominee, "she's still the most powerful woman in American politics. Now, I know the speaker might not like me saying that, who's a powerful, capable woman. ... But this is a woman who has demonstrated beyond anybody's doubt that she has the gumption and the brains and the tenacity and the stamina to take on anything, and she is going to play a major, major role in American politics, no matter what the outcome is."

On whether he would accept the VP position, Biden said, "anybody that's asked by their nominee to be their running mate, you'd have to consider it. How could you just blow it off? You can't do that. But I don't anticipate that happening."