Vice President Joe Biden insists that he, not Hillary Clinton, is the one who is closest to Obama and has had more influence on his decisions in the White House.
During a conversation about the vice presidency of former Vice President Walter Mondale this morning, Biden emphasized that he was the last person in the room when Obama made a major decision — a condition he made when he was first asked to be Vice President.
Biden’s most startling revelation was an attempt to change the historical narrative surrounding the Osama bin Laden raid.
In 2012, Biden repeatedly told a story that he disagreed with Obama’s decision to go after bin Laden, but that Obama went against him — a story he used to prove that his running mate had a “backbone like a ramrod” when it came to important decisions.
That story was confirmed by the White House in 2012, but Biden assured the audience today that he had different advice for the president behind closed doors.
“There was a third option that I didn’t really think we should do … I said I think we should make one more pass,” he said today, referring to a surveillance drone over the Bin Laden complex.
Biden asserted today that he privately told Obama during the discussion about the raid that the president should do it.
“As we walked out of the room, and walked upstairs, I told him my opinion. I thought he should go, but to follow his instincts,” he said.
Biden also explained that when the pair was first elected, he helped Obama pick out the presidential cabinet and had veto power over any of the proposed members.
“We were in total agreement,” he said. “And a number of cabinet members I knew better than the president knew.” That indicates that he could have spiked the decision to bring Hillary Clinton into Obama’s circle.
When questioned by reporters about Biden’s recent retelling of history, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to confirm the newly revealed details.
“There’s no denying his significant influence in this building,” he said, referring to the Vice President’s role in the administration.
When discussing his meetings with world leaders, Biden argued during the event that his meetings carried more weight than a Secretary of State, alluding to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
”We’ve had two great secretaries of state. But when I go, they know I am speaking for the president,” he said.
He also bragged that his family frequently vacationed with the Obama family and that his grandchildren were “best friends” with his daughters, and his wife Jill and his daughter-in-law were both close with Michelle Obama.
“I warned the president, when he got me, he got the whole family. He thought I was kidding,” he joked.
Biden also asserted that he was “primary interlocutor” in the Obama administrations because of his long history in the United States Senate.
“I still have a lot of Republican friends, I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican party, this is a matter of making things work,” he said, repeating a line from yesterday that was widely interpreted as a shot at Hillary.
But overall, Biden emphasized that he was an independent but critical voice in the Obama administration above all other cabinet members.
“We’ve had some very candid discussions like friends do,” he said, boasting that he had spent up to seven hours a day with the president.
Obama hasn’t done anything to detract from his Vice President’s character, repeatedly telling the media that his decision to pick Biden as his Vice President was the best political decision he had ever made.
“I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history and one of the more consequential,” Obama said in an interview with CBS 60 Minutes earlier this month.
Close analysis of Biden’s remarks has reached fever pitch as members the media try to divine the Vice President’s plans surrounding a potential presidential bid. His remarks today have only added to the speculation that he is willing to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
Biden lunched with Obama this afternoon and is scheduled to meet with the president and Secretary of John Kerry later today.