Biden Misinterpreted; Leads To Unnecessary Panic Among Dems

The headline over Harry Thermal's column is definitive: "VP Biden: Beau doesn't want to run" Thermal, a veteran Delaware reporter, had just spoken to the Vice President via telephone and relates this exchange as follows:

Our conversation ended with a surprising request from the vice president as he hurried off to a national security meeting. Spontaneously, he turned to the possible Delaware senatorial campaign of his son Beau.

Biden: "If you run into Beau, talk him into running; he respects you."

Me: "I don't think he wants to run, though."

Biden: "I don't think he does either. I know he doesn't want to. ... I'm so proud of the job he's done [as attorney general]."

Me: "Would you campaign for him [against Republican Mike Castle]?"

Biden: "Hell, yes. I told him I'd give him my sixth-born grandchild."

I doubt Beau Biden "respects" me, but it was quite startling to hear the vice president confirm what many Democrats fear -- that Beau does not want to be the candidate.

Panic among Democrats set in quickly because Beau Biden's decision whether to run for Senate will be interpreted as a signal of whether the White House thinks that the tough political environment can be overcome by stellar candidates.  But a transcript provided by the VP's office makes it clear that Biden was talking about current senator Ted Kauffman.

VP to Harry Themal:  Always a pleasure of seeing you buddy.  Talk Ted into running, if Beau doesn't.   Talk him into running - he respects you.  I wish I had the power of appointing Senators.  I'd appoint him from Maryland if he wouldn't do Delaware. 

Harry Themal: "I don't think he wants to run, though."

VP:  No I don't think he does either. I know he doesn't.  I'm so proud of the job he's done.  God. 

Harry: Would you campaign for him?

VP:  Oh hell yeah, man.  I tell you what - I was joking if Beau didn't run - I told him I'd give him my 6th-born grandchild. And you know, he said 'I have enough of those.' Alright, buddy, thanks.  (Call ends).

Note that Biden says he told Kauffman that "if Beau didn't run" he'd give Kauffman his 6th born grandchild. If Biden had been referring to his son, he would be telling his son that he would give his son his own son. Makes no sense. Clearly, Beau Biden hasn't decided to run yet. But the VP isn't tipping his hand in this interview.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In