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Public Statements

ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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TAPPER: And now we turn to the vice president's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. Beau, thanks so much for joining us.

B. BIDEN: Great to be with you this morning, Jake.

TAPPER: Now, I hate to put you in the awkward position of having to defend your father. I know I wouldn't want to have to defend my father, as much as I love him. But he is the vice president, and you are here on this show. So I have to start with a criticism of your father's style the other night. Many out there were saying his eye rolls, his laughter, his smiles were too much, and overshadowed the substance of what he was saying. The Romney-Ryan ticket has a new TV ad. Let's play a clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Did they come in and inherit a tough situation? Absolutely. But we're going in the wrong direction. Look at where we are. The economy is barely limping along. Don't raise taxes on small businesses, because they're our job-creators.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Smiling and laughing while Congressman Ryan was talking about serious issues. Was his body language at all -- were his facial expressions counterproductive?

B. BIDEN: Not at all. Look, I'm happy to defend my dad. I don't think he needs any defensiveness. Any time the other side -- Karl Rove or folks on the far right -- are going after my father for smiling too much, you know that's a victory. My father spoke clearly to the American people about the facts, and you saw him do that for 90 minutes straight.

You know, this isn't, Jake, about how much my father smiled or how many gallons of water that the congressman drank nervously on that stage. It's about talking directly to the American people about very important facts, and what you saw from my father were him articulating the vision that the president and he have to continue to build this middle class, you know, out and take this country forward.

And, you know, from -- you know, I was struck by Paul Ryan by a number of fronts, you know, especially the congressman's position on Afghanistan, which I feel -- I feel very strongly about.

TAPPER: I want to get to that...

B. BIDEN: Here you have a congressman suggesting...

TAPPER: Beau, I want to -- well, go ahead.

B. BIDEN: I'm sorry. Yeah, sure. Well, look, I mean, you had him suggest, if not open the door, to put additional troops in Afghanistan. So it was a remarkable position to take. It demonstrated, I think, that, you know, the congressman is not quite up to speed on foreign policy as you might want a would-be vice president to be.

You know, this is a moment in time where we're -- our nation's fought the longest war in its nation's -- in this nation's history, and he's actually suggesting putting additional forces in the most dangerous part of the most dangerous part of the world. It was a remarkable moment for me.

You know, this is the same person, Congressman, that had suggested, you know, that -- Governor Romney suggested the privatization, the voucherization of the V.A. We're going to have a nation -- a group of -- generation of folks coming back from two wars on two fronts, and they want to hand veterans a voucher? It's a remarkable, remarkable position they've taken on a whole range of issues that affect veterans, which I feel very strongly about.

TAPPER: Beau, I mean, wasn't the point that Congressman Ryan making -- wasn't he making the point that pulling troops out of Afghanistan, especially in R.C. East, Regional Command East, which I've been, isn't it accurate -- and your father has been many times -- isn't it accurate to say that generals preferred to pull out the troops after the fighting season ended and not during? Wasn't that the larger strategic point he was making?

B. BIDEN: You know, I'm not sure if he knows what the strategic point he was making was. The point that I heard and the American people heard is that you heard my father clearly articulate that we wouldn't have forces in Afghanistan by 2014, and you've seen here the congressman equivocate on that, in fact, not be willing to guarantee the American people that we wouldn't have forces in Afghanistan, which will then be the nation's longest war.

I mean, you know, this is a person who, on a whole host of issues, whether it be Iran or Afghanistan or Syria, that it -- or Libya, they couldn't take yes for an answer. When pressed by Martha Raddatz, they embraced the president's positions and stated policy, but then the congressman, in an attempt to kind of thump his chest like some of his predecessors seem to want to be doing, to try to sound tough, suggesting that we -- you know -- you know, commit additional forces to Afghanistan. Remarkable moment. Remarkable moment.

I was interested to see what Dan Senor was saying in the spin room that evening. He was literally spinning around trying to, I think, correct or at least explain some of the statements from the congressman on Afghanistan.

TAPPER: Right. Beau, I want to get to Libya right now, because your father raised some eyebrows when he was asked about requests for more security from diplomats on the ground in Libya. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. BIDEN: Well, we weren't told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: ... weren't told, though I know the White House now says that when the vice president said we, he meant him and the president, not the Obama administration writ large, because obviously the State Department was told that they wanted more security. But isn't that kind of a copout? You're speaking in front of 50 million Americans and you're saying we weren't told, when people in the State Department were, in fact, told?

B. BIDEN: Not at all. He was speaking for himself and the president, as you heard Jay Carney tell you in the briefing room just the other day. Look, this is -- this is a tragedy when we lose an ambassador and three other personnel, number one. Number two, the president is going to do -- making sure that we investigate to make sure exactly what happened, putting Tom Pickering in charge of doing just that.

Three, the president is going to do exactly what he did with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. He's going to find these people and bring them to justice. And, fourthly, you know, Jake, this is not a moment in time where we should be politicizing these issues. You know, I've served with and know and have personal friends who in the Foreign Service as we speak. And the idea that Romney and Ryan are suggesting that the president of the United States doesn't take seriously the security of our diplomats and Foreign Service officers around the world I find absolutely outrageous, especially outrageous coming from the congressman, who in his budget proposed to cut diplomatic security by $200 million to $300 million.

It's outrageous. This is not a time -- like this is a group of folks that aren't ready for primetime. You have Governor Romney, who within 24 hours goes to London, offends our closest ally, walks out in front of 10 Downing Street, and tells the international press corps that he just met with British intelligence. These are folks that seem to be more interested in kind of pounding their chest to make the neoconservatives who advise them proud than they are about being serious about foreign policy and protecting our national interests around the world.

TAPPER: All right. Beau Biden, that's all the time we have, regrettably. Thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

B. BIDEN: Happy to. Thanks, Jake.

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