EXETER, N.H. ― It seemed like an oddball question for former Vice President Joe Biden: Would he be open to having a Republican serve as his own vice president if he were the Democratic nominee? But during a routine campaign stop here on Monday, Biden’s answer was a bit surprising.
“The answer is, I would,” Biden said. “But I can’t think of one now.”
At the time, Biden’s response seemed to be taken more as a joke or rhetorical flourish, drawing laughs from the crowd gathered at Exeter’s historic town hall. But Biden immediately silenced the laughs.
“No, I’m serious,” he said. “No, here’s what I mean. Let me explain that. You know, there’s some really decent Republicans that are out there still. But here’s the problem right now, of the well-known ones, they’ve got to step up, you know what I mean?”
Biden again clarified that he wasn’t “being a wiseguy,” and that there are a lot of people who are qualified to be vice president.
While Biden made it clear he was open to the idea, the rest of his answer suggested that a Republican running mate ― like, say, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich ― would be a long shot.
Biden mentioned how a vice president needs to be “simpatico” with the president and how the two needed to be on “the same exact wavelength politically” to get things done.
He said no president could handle the job anymore all by himself or herself, and he pointed to his experience as vice president to Barack Obama as the paradigm for a vice president’s responsibilities.
“When he gave me responsibility, he gave me total presidential authority. I could hire people, I could fire people, I could pick anyone from the administration to work with me,” Biden said. “I had complete control ― not a joke.”
That seems to be Biden’s idea of the proper relationship between a president and a vice president ― someone to whom the president can delegate responsibility and not worry about differing ideologies.
Even the theoretical openness to a GOP vice president, however, once again points to Biden’s long-held belief that Trump is an aberration from the Republican Party and not a product of it.
While Biden has moved away from stating that belief over the last month, he continues to tell voters he can work with Republicans. And his refusal to rule out a GOP running mate is more proof that he thinks his old relationships across the aisle are salvageable.