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Public Statements

MSNBC News - Transcript

Interview

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Part Two

MS. O'DONNELL: A little more than a year away from the Iowa caucuses, and the field of Democratic candidates grows by one more with Senator Joe Biden's announcement that he is running. Prior to Biden's announcement, a poll taken by an Iowa TV station shows some surprising results. Senators John Edwards and Barack Obama lead the pack, with Iowa's own governor, Tom Vilsack, in third place. Still further behind is Senator Hillary Clinton, long thought to be the front-runner among Democrats.

Well, earlier today I spoke with Senator Joe Biden, who's not even on that poll but he's on a national poll, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, showing only about 4 percent of Democrats would vote for him, and that puts him behind all of them -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and John Kerry.

(Videotaped interview follows:)

SEN. BIDEN: Well, this far out, those polls don't mean much. And Barack Obama is the new hottest thing in the Democratic Party, deservedly so, and the other three have recently run and/or lived in the White House. So, of the challengers, at least I'm on the radar screen.

And I feel very good about the money we've been able to raise so far and feel very good about the progress we're making in the early states. This is a marathon, as you know.

MS. O'DONNELL: Right.

SEN. BIDEN: There are going to be at least four or five of these iterations between now and the Iowa caucus.

MS. O'DONNELL: I like the way you put that, "At least I'm on the radar screen." (Laughs.)

SEN. BIDEN: Yes. (Chuckles.) Well, you know, there's a lot of other people out there running who aren't even on the radar screen.

MS. O'DONNELL: That is true. That is true, Senator.

And you have been in the Senate since 1972.

SEN. BIDEN: That's true.

MS. O'DONNELL: And I read a story today that perhaps your biggest challenge is getting over the "been there and done that" kind of phrase; that many people will see you as a career politician.

Why run for president when you're about to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you have an opportunity to lead on the issue of Iraq, when many Democrats may be looking for a fresh face, someone like Senator Barack Obama?

SEN. BIDEN: Well, I think the American people are looking for someone who HAS been there and done that, who they, in fact, have confidence understands our place in the world, has a plan to restore the greatness of this country as well as restore the middle class. But only time's going to tell whether or not they think, as my grandfather would say, I'm the horse can carry the sleigh.

As I go around the country, Norah, and I think you'll find from every other candidate, this is a sober American public. They understand these are large, large issues that we have to deal with. They understand that what happens in the Middle East and what happens in Korea and the rest of the world affects them as much as anything that happens at home. And I think this may be the first campaign, when you finally see the two nominees chosen, that they're going to be arguing with one another who has the most experience to handle the most serious time in our history since the beginning of the Depression, in my view.

MS. O'DONNELL: There does seem to be a consensus on that, Senator, in both parties; that many people believe whoever is president next will face some of the biggest challenges of any president, not only in terms of foreign affairs, but domestic issues, as well, a ballooning deficit, et cetera. Given that issue of experience, do you believe that that is the greatest weakness of Senator Barack Obama, that he may be too inexperienced?

SEN. BIDEN: I'm not sure Barack has any weaknesses. But I think it's my greatest asset.

MS. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) Let me ask you, then: What are your plans in terms of running for president over the next several months? And let me also ask you about the talk that Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are sucking all the oxygen out of the room and that is going to quickly clear the field of people like you.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, I think they are sucking all the oxygen out of the room, but I don't think the rooms that they're living in are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, those early states that are going to determine, in my view, who the next nominee is going to be. And in those states, we're doing very well. We'll see what the filing is. But I've raised as much money in this cycle as anyone except -- I think -- we'll see what the projections are for this quarter -- anyone other than Senator Clinton. And I think you'll find that I have as much support in South Carolina and Iowa and New Hampshire as anybody else out there.

But look, this is a marathon. I mean, I can remember everyone saying, just one month before the Iowa caucuses last year, the 50 leading pundits in American politics, they were asked to pick who the Democratic nominee was going to be, and not one single pundit, if memory serves me well, picked John Kerry, the nominee.

MS. O'DONNELL: Because everyone thought it was going to be Howard Dean, that's right.

Senator Joe Biden, incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --

SEN. BIDEN: Thanks, Norah.

MS. O'DONNELL: -- thank you for your time. And we will continue to watch your hearings upcoming on Iraq on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Norah.


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