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CNN "The Situation Room" Transcript: Obama

Interview

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Up next: CNN's exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden, who opens up to our own Gloria Borger about his relationship with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: How can you tell when you have done something that he doesn't like or that makes him angry?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, that's easy. That's easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It would be hard to find anyone, anyone who appeared to be having more fun at yesterday's inaugural parade festivities than the vice president, Joe -- we saw him sort of marching with the marching brand.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We were having more fun than him maybe. No, I'm just kidding. But he was sure having fun.

As he and President Obama begin their second term, he talked about, that would be Vice President Biden, about their teamwork, their disagreements, and Biden's unique role in an exclusive interview with CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORGER (voice-over): If there's an odd couple of American politics, it's President Obama and Joe Biden.

BIDEN: What made it work is that if you go back to the days when we were actually competing for the nomination, all those debates we had, the only two people who didn't disagree on any subject were Barack Obama and Joe Biden. So when we got into this deal, we didn't have what other administrations have had, where the vice president and the president have a different take on the major issues of the day. We were totally simpatico.

And what developed -- and it made it easier -- was it went from working with each other to a friendship. We actually -- real trust built.

BORGER (on camera): We know, though, that you have disagreed with the president over policy and you know how to read him pretty well. So how can you tell when you have done something that he doesn't like or that makes him angry?

BIDEN: Oh, that's easy. That's easy.

We made a deal early on. When either one of us were dissatisfied, you just flat tell the other person. And so lunch once a week, you know, that's when we talk. And when he's not liked something I have done, he just flat tells me.

BORGER: So, he says, Joe, you shouldn't have done that?

BIDEN: He says, Joe, look, I don't agree with the way you did that. Why did you do A, B, C, or D? Or he will say or I will say, hey, look, man, I don't like the way this is going. This is what we -- so, you know, there's complete openness.

But, you know, we haven't disagreed on -- we sometimes disagreed on tactic as to how to proceed to try to get what he wanted done, which I have agreed with, but we have never disagreed on policy.

BORGER (voice-over): But there was a problem with timing when the vice president got ahead of the boss in this exchange about same- sex marriage on "Meet the Press."

BIDEN: Men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.

BORGER (on camera): That caused heartburn in the West Wing.

BIDEN: Even the so-called discussion about my saying I was comfortable with gay and lesbians and relationships, I knew his position. That was...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: But you got out in front of him on it, and that's -- that can be a problem.

BIDEN: I will tell you how he responded. I walked into the office, and he got up, smiled, gave me a big hug, and he said, I tell you what, man, that's one of the things I like about you. You say what's on your mind.

BORGER: You say it caused a little apoplexy around here.

BIDEN: It did, but not with him. Not with him.

BORGER (voice-over): Lately, Biden's become the White House closer, cutting the deal on the fiscal cliff and trying to get one on guns.

(on camera): Are you the only ones who can cut deals with Republicans now?

BIDEN: No, no, no, no. Look, first of all, the only reason I would be able to close any deal is because everybody knows I speak for the president. I have his complete support for what I'm saying, because I know what he wants, number one.

Number two, I think the reason why we make a good team, you know, Tip O'Neill used to say, and you will recall, politics is local, and you have heard me say. I seldom disagree with Tip O'Neill, God rest his soul, but all politics is personal. It's all personal. And it's based on trust. And I have spent a lot of time in this town. And I have personal relationships with people I strongly disagree, but there's trust.

And so I'm a logical person, a logical person to, as they say, you guys say, close the deal. But it's the president. It's not me. It's the president.

BORGER: But it's no secret that you and the president are very different people. You're hot. He's cool. You're a natural back- slapper. He's been accused of being more insular. Does the marriage work because he married his opposite?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think what you hope -- and he used this phrase one time, that we kind of make up for whatever weaknesses the other guy has.

And I have got a hell of a lot more weaknesses than he does. The one place that I just have had a lot of experience with a lot of the people we deal with. And, you know, everybody talks about, well, it's, you know, it's back-slapping, it's old -- it's not. It's trust. It's simple, simple trust. Find a single person -- and you know this town better -- who will look you in the eye and say, I don't trust Joe Biden.

It's just that I have been around longer and they know me, but they also know I speak for him. And he will keep whatever commitment I make on his behalf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)


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