Biden: More ‘Confidant’ Than ‘Deputy President’

Posted January 25, 2009 at 10:27am

Vice President Joseph Biden today characterized his role in the new administration as the most senior adviser to President Barack Obama, indicating that a deal between the two leaders guarantees he is “the last person in the room” when “critical decisions” are made.

Biden, who appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” suggested he would not reprise former Vice President Dick Cheney’s policymaking role, saying he would not act as “deputy president” but instead serve as a “confidant” to Obama.

Biden defended the administration’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay prison, noting that released suspects would not end up on U.S. streets because, with one exception, they are not U.S. citizens. Instead, they will be sent back to their home countries or to third-party countries. While optimistic that the facility could be shuttered within a year, as Obama has pledged, Biden acknowledged that it would be difficult to get that done.

Biden also said that there will be further consultation with Republicans on stimulus legislation and that he expects the bill to be passed with bipartisan support in the Senate. But he suggested further concessions will be limited. Noting that 40 percent of the measure includes tax cuts, he said, “We’ve come a pretty long way already.”

Biden also issued a rare acknowledgement by a Democrat — particularly one of Biden’s stature — that a major policy of former President George W. Bush was successful. Asked about Iraq, Biden said, “The surge did work.” But he noted that more progress needs to be made toward “political reconciliation.”

Asked about how he is doing in his effort to curb his tendency to speak his mind freely now that he is vice president and not a Senator, the famously loquacious Biden acknowledged, “Yeah, it’s harder.”