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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript


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When we come back, my interview with Vice President Joe Biden.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one is guaranteed anything in an election. This is going to be a tough election. The country has inherited very difficult political and economic times.


CROWLEY: We caught up with Vice President Joe Biden this week in New Hampshire, where, among other things, he filed the official papers of President Obama to run in the state's primary next year. Biden opened the day at Plymouth State University, pushing for support of a jobs bill to help states keep or hire policemen, teachers, and firemen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: There are 30,000 unfilled police jobs nationwide now. People wonder why crime is going up in particularly difficult areas. More cops on the street means less crime. Fewer cops on the streets means more crime.


CROWLEY: Biden has frequently expanded on this case, essentially arguing that a vote against the president's jobs bill means more rapes and murders. The suggestion set the conservative blogosphere into orbit and drew objections on Capitol Hill too.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: Vice President Biden made a number of comments that I believe were over the top. To me, the vice president is attempting to use fear tactics on the American people.


CROWLEY: Let me tell you the things, in case you haven't seen it, that made the blogosphere -- the conservative blogosphere explode, just ask you a really direct question.

BIDEN: Sure.

CROWLEY: Is it your intention to say, when you give these speeches, that if Republicans don't pass the president's jobs bill, they will be responsible for increases in rape and murder.

BIDEN: Well, no. Here's what my point is. It is a fact, ever since I wrote the crime bill 20 years ago, we've put to rest the notion that if you have more cops, there's less crime. When you drastically cut the number of police in cities, which is happening all across America, crime goes up. That is a fact.

Now, they either are going to figure out how to help those cities the way we want to help them or some other way, but if they don't get help, crime is going to continue to go up. It's that simple. It's not an ideological point. It's not a political point. It's just a physical reality.

CROWLEY: And I guess their point is, again, the conservative blogosphere, some of your colleagues say, it's like he's blaming us for increases in rape and murder in Flint, and let me just add to that, that the crime rate in 2010 was down 6 percent for serious crimes.

BIDEN: Well, that's true about the crime rate, but you didn't have the emasculation. They've laid off over 15,000 cops, 10,000 in the last 18 months. And in Flint, Michigan, in Camden, New Jersey, the police forces are cut by almost half.

Now, look, there's a cycle here. What happens is when the economy tanks, when foreclosures increase exponentially, when homes get abandoned, drug outfits move in, arsons go way up. You have increase -- and that drives down property costs. That causes a spiral. That drives down revenue available for the cities and counties. They lay off more cops. The more cops who are laid off, the more crime that occurs. So the question is, we have an answer. What is their answer, or do they think the federal government has no obligation? I respect it if they think that, but the truth is, we can fix this problem now.

CROWLEY: You don't see it as unfair politics? This is like, oh, you're...

BIDEN: No. This is reality.

CROWLEY: ... trying to attach this to Republicans?

BIDEN: It's a little bit like saying, we had a major flood, we think we should go in and help people rebuild their homes. They may say no, that's not the federal government's responsibility, or if you do that, we ought to cut their aid to education or something.

We just have a different value set. That's all.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, the Misery Index is out today, that's the inflation and joblessness.


CROWLEY: Index is at a 28-year high. The average income for individuals is about $1,300 less than it was three years ago. You have got unemployment at 9.1 percent. Worst quarter for Wall Street in terms of investments and trading this past quarter than at any time since -- than the depths of the recession.

What's your bumper sticker here? How do you sell this for a re- election?

BIDEN: The bumper sticker says, let's get the economy moving. That's what the jobs bill is about. The jobs bill is not just the individual jobs. It's getting the economy moving. We were moving. We've created every -- 19 months in a row we've created private sector jobs. Public sector jobs are down by almost a half a million.

I mean, excuse me -- yes, that's about right, about half a million. And the second piece of this is that a lot of what's happening on Wall Street now is a consequence of their concern of what's going on in Europe and the Eurozone.

But we can control certain things, and all those independent, all -- vast majority of the respected independent validators out there say if we pass this jobs bill, the GDP will grow by 2 percent.

CROWLEY: Let me just stop you there, because Bloomberg did a thing, and I know you all have quoted Moody's and -- but Bloomberg did a survey of more than two dozen economists and they said probably, that it will be better than nothing for sure, that it will help the economy, maybe keep us from a double dip. But the jobs are more around 275,000 next year, maybe 13,000 (INAUDIBLE). Is that enough?

And when people say -- and yes, everybody wants the jobs to come back, but you all have had now two and a half years and they're not back, how do you sell that?

BIDEN: Look, we have brought back jobs. We have brought back or saved well over 3 million jobs so far. And so the fact of the matter is that's not enough.

Look, Candy, the six months before we took office, the bottom fell out. There were 5 million jobs lost. Before we got the first bill passed another 3 million jobs lost. So we started off with an 8 million job deficit that wasn't of our making.

And what are these guys now saying? Well, the way to create jobs is go back to what we did before, continue to cut taxes for the very the wealthy and unregulate Wall Street.

CROWLEY: Aren't people also saying, though, look we did almost $1 trillion in stimulus spending, and you all at that time said oh, unemployment won't go above 8 percent, GDP will be higher than it is now and it isn't, and so now we need another leap with the jobs bill.

BIDEN: No. Look, here's the deal. Nobody can look you in the eye and tell you that the Recovery Act and that stimulus did not create jobs and did not do very good things for the economy. The problem was in the beginning, the economists said that in fact we wouldn't go above 8 percent, because they didn't know until this last quarter that the economy shrunk in the last term of the Bush administration, almost 9 percent. Everybody thought it was more like 5.5 percent. And so the point was, we were all operating off of what the blue chips were looking at, and the numbers were wrong.

But the fact is, if we hadn't had that stimulus, we would be in a position now where we would be in a double dip recession some time ago.

CROWLEY: Do you think that's good enough to reelect the Obama- Biden team? It would have been worse?

BIDEN: The answer is, that's not the argument it would have been worse. It is better, number one. And number two, everything is a choice. There's a clear choice emerging here.

CROWLEY: How do you bring independents back? You've seen that huge dive, I think in Virginia where the president was the other day, 34 percent of independents is what supported that. And you know that independents brought him Virginia. And you see the same thing across the country, just don't think he's been bold enough, they don't think he's had good enough leadership, he's been strong enough.

How do you convince them to come back?

BIDEN: I think first of all we convince them to come back, because at the end of the day, everything is an alternative, a choice. CROWLEY: So you're saying this guy is worse?

BIDEN: No, here is what we're for and here's what they're getting in the way of us being able to do. And if we continue to do what we're doing, it will continue to get better. That's why it's so important that this jobs bill be passed, so there's something positive occurring.

Look, things were moving, and they were even moving relatively well this last spring, until we got downgraded because these guys played roulette with are we going to make a deal on dealing with the debt.

CROWLEY: So you think they're the whole reason. It wasn't the uncertainty? It wasn't -- I mean, you think Republicans were responsible for that?

BIDEN: I think the Fed -- yes, I think the Republican -- look, let me make it clear. We could have had a much more significant debt reduction package, but the Republican leadership could not sell it to this new Republican Party. This is not your normal Republican Party. It doesn't mean it's good or bad. It's a different Republican Party in the House of Representatives. It's different. With a very different view than mainstream Republicans have had going into this.

And until we get a Republican Party, it's going to be hard to figure out who can we compromise with. We're prepared to compromise just like on the jobs bill. Give us an alternative. Tell us what you would do?

CROWLEY: They did. They had a McCain alternative as you know.

BIDEN: Yeah. And independent validators said it wouldn't create any new jobs. Where -- and look, well, I'll leave it.

CROWLEY: Go ahead. I can tell you were just about to say something. I'm sure I would have loved it.

When you look at the GOP field right now, who is the strongest candidate?

BIDEN: Candy, I had trouble figuring out my own field you know. And I have no idea. You know -- it's just...

CROWLEY: Would Romney be tough?

BIDEN: I think they'd all be tough. I think whoever is our opponent will be tough.

CROWLEY: But you don't -- a lot of people have used your quote about, listen, you know, they certainly have a chance.

BIDEN: Sure they do.

CROWLEY: Sort of extrapolating that you think they might win. And I think that's a jump. BIDEN: Look, I think it's a gigantic jump, but the flip of that is they're not someone looking at the camera and being honest, hey, elections, no one's guaranteed anything in an election. This is going to be a tough election. The country has inherited difficult political and economic times.

Why wouldn't it be tough? Elections should be tough. There are tough choices. CROWLEY: But you think...

BIDEN: I think we're going to win. I think we're going to win. You probably know that.

CROWLEY: Based on -- I would expect you to say that.

BIDEN: Well, based on our policies.

Look, here's, again, I've tried to say this before, you know, when you don't have a job, for whatever reason, you're not a happy man. And you're angry and you're frustrated. Why wouldn't you be angry?

I come from a family where I've seen that happen with my parents and my uncles and my aunts, but at the end of the day, they're going to have to decide, and they will decide, whether or not we're on the right path or whether or not the other team has offered a better path.

And I think it's a little bit like when people begin to focus, I think the choice is going to become awfully clear.

CROWLEY: So you don't think it will be a referendum on your...

BIDEN: No, I don't. I think it will be a choice. It's like that story I told you about, the former mayor of Boston who said don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative. Ultimately you get compared to the alternative. And that doesn't mean who is the worst, it means who would offer the best answer. And I think we have the best answer. And I think the people will conclude that.

CROWLEY: Mr. Vice President, you're going on to your next stop.

BIDEN: I am.

CROWLEY: See you after that one. Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you very, very much.

CROWLEY: We would meet later at the Tilton Diner where the vice president said he was quite open to the idea of running for president in 2016.

Possibility? You're not closing that door?

BIDEN: I'm not closing anything.


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