Addressing reports that his campaign staff considered dumping Vice President Joe Biden from the Democratic ticket in 2012, President Obama said he never would have approved such a move and he lavished praise on Biden as a friend and adviser.
Asked during an NBC News interview Thursday whether he knew that his campaign was researching the idea of swapping Biden for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as described in a new book, Obama replied: "You know, I am in charge of two million people in the federal government. And that was true, by the way, even when I was running for president.
"So people do all kinds of stuff. Some of it, they clear with me. Sometimes they're trying to figure something out, particularly on the political side. And I'm not somebody who delves into polling and all that data.
"Here's the one thing I can say for certain–that if they had asked me, I would have said there is no way that I'm not running again with Joe Biden. Because I genuinely believe that he has been one of the best vice presidents in our history. He also happens to be a friend. He also happens to be one of my most important advisers on domestic, foreign policy. I like him. When my back's up against the wall, he has my back."
Asked if he has discussed the situation with Biden, Obama said, "What I told him, and he knows and he believes me, is that I would not be here if it weren't for the support that I've had from Joe Biden. He is a personal friend and adviser....One of the best decisions that I've ever made was selecting him as vice president. I couldn't be prouder of the job that he's done."
The story about campaign aides researching a Biden-Clinton swap is contained in "Double Down" by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.