WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday he is “confident that I could make a good president,” but added that he had yet to decide whether he will seek the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Biden, during a round of morning TV interviews in which he sought to reinforce President Barack Obama’s State of the Union message, said he will make his decision without regard to whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or anyone else joins the race.
“The only reason a man or woman should run for president — and I’m sure Hillary views it the exact same way — is if they think they’re better positioned to be able to do what the nation needs at the moment,” Biden told “CBS This Morning” when asked if Clinton’s plans would affect his.
On NBC’s “Today” show, the vice president said he still had “plenty of time” to decide whether to run.
“In my heart I’m confident that I could make a good president,” he said. “I’ve not made a decision to run, I’ve not made a decision not to run. In the meantime, I’ve got a job.”
Biden also responded for the first time publicly to Robert M. Gates’ harsh criticism of his foreign policy views. In his recently published memoir, Gates, a Republican who served as Defense secretary in Obama’s first Cabinet, wrote that Biden was a “man of integrity” but has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
“I think he’s a man of integrity as well,” Biden said on “Today.” But he acknowledged that he and Gates — who he referred to twice as Bill Gates before correcting himself — had often held opposing views on foreign policy and national security during the decades when Biden served in the Senate and Gates was at the CIA or the National Security Council.
“We had a different view on Vietnam. We had a different view on Bosnia. We had a different view on Iran-Contra — that’s one of the reasons I voted against him (to be director of the) CIA. And we had a different view on Afghanistan,” he said. “Bob Gates and I disagree on almost every major issue. And I’m very comfortable with my position. I’ll let the American public judge who’s been right or wrong, Bob Gates or me. And history will judge ultimately who of us was right or wrong.”
Promoting the proposals put forth in Obama’s speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress, Biden said the president was not giving up on getting bills through Congress despite stiff Republican opposition.
“I think you’re going to see much more cooperation with Congress this year than in the past five years,” he said on NBC.
On CBS, Biden said that before the speech, he and House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, discussed the prospects of the Republican-controlled House passing immigration legislation this year. Boehner has urged fellow Republicans to consider a package of reforms, although he has said they will not consider the bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate last June.
“Last year, the president asked for a move on immigration and in fact everybody said no, it’s dead on arrival. This year it looks like we may get something done,” Biden said.
He also said pundits were making too much of the fact that Obama’s speech did not mention a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
“We still think far and away the preferable route to go is citizenship,” Biden said. “We don’t want two tiers of people in America: those who are legal but not citizens, and citizens. And so what we are saying is, and I said to John last night, pass something. If that’s what you’re going to pass, pass it. And to use the wonkish term, let the Congress get to conference, let the Congress battle it out to decide what the route is.”
The vice president was set to travel to Rochester, N.Y., later Wednesday to discuss job training programs. Obama announced in his speech Tuesday that he had asked Biden to lead a comprehensive review of those federal training programs.