Biden: ‘No Apology’ to the Iranians for Incident Resulting in Capture of 10 U.S. Sailors

Wednesday in an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Vice President Joe Biden gave a wide-ranging interview about the State of the Union address a night earlier and clarified some earlier remarks he had made about the contest between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

However Biden also reacted to the report that 10 U.S. sailors had been captured by the Iranians for allegedly entering Iranian waters, which have since been freed. Biden explained to show co-host Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell it was an engine failure and said he said the United States would not apologize to the Iranians for the mishap.

“There’s no apology and there’s nothing to apologize for,” Biden said. “When you have a problem with the boat do you apologize to the boat having a problems? And there is no looking for any apology. This was just standard nautical practice.”

Transcript as follows:

ROSE: The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, is with us from Washington.

Mr. Vice President, good morning. Great to have you.

BIDEN: Happy to be here with you, Charlie.

ROSE: Speaker Ryan said, quote, “If everything was as great as the president said it was, two-thirds of the American people would not say the country is on the wrong track.” Is there a disconnect?

BIDEN: I think it’s two reasons, Charlie. One, is the blowback from the recession that still has left a lot of middle class people who lost their homes to more in the stock market who didn’t get back in as it came back up.

The job stagnation — excuse me. I mean the wage stagnation. And I think the president explained it fairly well with these international changes taking place with globalization and the way things are moving and we have to adjust.

This is a new period, and so there is understandable frustration, understandable concern. But there is no question, no question we are the most respected, most powerful nation in the world. There is no question that no one is as used to saying my neighborhood patch on our jeans.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t real genuine concerns, particularly income disparity and wage stagnation among the American people with good reason.

ROSE: Speaking of income disparity, Secretary Clinton, you have suggested, is late to the income equality issue. Why did you say that and what did you mean? And does it suggest you wish you were part of the political debate?

BIDEN: No, no. The context is always getting a little — it gets reshaped and not intentionally, but gets reshaped in the retelling. I was asked a question about Bernie Sanders and about Hillary, and what I was saying was Hillary has been secretary of state for five years before, almost five years before she ran for office.

And prior to that, her major focus and function was still in the area of national security. And — but Bernie has been doing the same speech for the last 30 years. And all I meant was that this is Bernie’s — I mean literally.

He has never changed his position. And so it is — there is a difference. I think some of the policies that Hillary has come forward with are very, very pro active. I think they would be very helpful to the middle class. I think she is moving in the right direction.

But the comparison was she and Bernie. And it wasn’t that she’s is not authentic, she is authentic. It was that Bernie — this has been what Bernie’s been talking about.

It’s like, if you asked me in reverse, why isn’t Bernie talking more about women like Hillary? Well, this has been Hillary’s wheelhouse since ever she has been a public face in the United States, fighting for women.

And so it doesn’t mean he doesn’t support women. It’s just her wheelhouse. That is the context in which the discussion took place.

O’DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, Obama said last night that anyone claiming America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. But the facts are this.

We have more than 47 million people living in poverty. Household incomes has dramatically shifted to upper income Americans from middle income Americans. You have wages in this country are stagnant. The economy has gotten worse for many Americans. Is there a disconnect here?

BIDEN: The overall economy is healthy. The dislocations and the concentration of wealth are dangerous. I remember having a discussion with you, Charlie…

ROSE: Yes.

BIDEN: … where I pointed out an article from the New England — from the University of Massachusetts, the professor pointed out that of the 4.7 trillion dollars in profits from 2003 to 2013 for corporate American, 57 percent went to buying stock, 34 percent to rewarding shareholders and 9 percent left for everything else.

That is what Barack and I have been fighting about. We have been saying that what you have to do is you have to give greater opportunity. Corporate attitudes have to change.

There’s no longer — they act like they have no corporate responsibility to the community, no corporate responsibility to their employees. There has been a shift, a significant shift that is dangerous.

And that is what is wrong with America. But not the overall economy. The overall economy relative to the rest of the world is by far and away the wealthiest economy.

KING: What wasn’t mentioned last night was Iran’s detention of the ten U.S. sailors. We hear the news is good news this morning. What can you tell us about that?

BIDEN: Well, I can tell you that what happened was that apparently, we had, from our military, one of the boats had engine failure and drifted into Iranian waters.

The Iranians picked up both boats as we have picked up Iranian boats where — that needed to be rescued and took them to — I’m not sure exactly where. I don’t want to misspeak here.

And realized they were there and distressed and said they were releasing and released them like ordinary nations would do. That is the way nations should do about it and that is why it’s important to have channels open.

O’DONNELL: Should we apologize to the Iranians?

BIDEN: No. There’s no apology and there’s nothing to apologize for. When you have a problem with the boat do you apologize to the boat having a problems? And there is no looking for any apology. This was just standard nautical practice.

ROSE: Mr. Vice President, thank you to have you.

BIDEN: Good to talk to you guys. Thanks for having me.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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