In a warmup to the latest Democratic presidential town hall meeting in Nevada Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden spent the better part of an hour in a taped interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The audience was treated to “the world according to Joe.”
Biden spent much of the time offering a ringing defense of the Obama administration’s policies, including the $862 billion stimulus in the depths of the Great Recession. He also insisted that the U.S. and its allies were beginning to “make genuine progress” in isolating and taking out ISIS.
While some were expecting him to make a pronouncement on the course of the Democratic presidential campaign – a race he decided against entering last October in the wake of his 46-year-old son Beau’s death from brain cancer – Biden steered clear of critiquing former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or taking sides.
However, he did make some news before his time was up. Among the more interesting morsels:
On the prospects of Republican Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination. President Obama said earlier this week that he couldn’t imagine Americans electing Trump president. Biden sees it a little differently:
“I think it’s very possible he can be nominated and depending on how this all plays out I would take him seriously in terms of being able to win,” Biden said. “He’s appealing to fear…. I am not very good at prognosticating, but I would not be surprised if he is the nominee. I would be surprised if he got elected.”
On Trump’s calling Pope Francis “disgraceful” for suggesting Trump wasn’t a Christian because he favors building a wall along the southwestern border. Biden, a Roman Catholic, said it wasn’t a “hard choice” in siding with the Pope against the billionaire businessman.
“I’m not a theologian nor am I a priest or a minister, but I think building walls is fundamentally contrary to what made this country what it is,” Biden said.
On whether he would accept a recess appointment to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Biden, grimacing and smiling, replied:
“You never say to a president for certain you wouldn’t do anything, but I have no -- look at me now -- I have no desire to sit on the Supreme Court…. It would be a great honor but I have no desire.”