Exclusive: Biden Discusses Unrest in Egypt, Keeping U.S. Competitive


In an exclusive interview with the NewsHour, Vice President Joe Biden told Jim Lehrer Thursday afternoon that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the target of anti-government demonstrations in Cairo, is someone he knows “fairly well” and does not consider to be a dictator. But the “time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction of being more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there.”

The vice president was hesitant to link protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen as part of a unified trend, saying he didn’t “see any direct relationship, other than it might be argued that what is happening in one country sparks whatever concern there is another country.” He called for dialogue between demonstrators and the government.

Mr. Biden also reiterated the themes in President Obama’s State of the Union address, saying “infrastructure creates jobs,” and that the government is uniquely able to invest in and encourage development of projects like high-speed railways. He said Rep. Paul Ryan’s GOP response reflected a “philosophical difference on the role of government” between Democrats and Republicans.

He also echoed the theme of remaining competitive as emerging economies around the world strengthen. When it comes to economic growth, he expressed optimism in the United States’ economic recovery, saying “the rest of the world is starting to move, and we have to invest … in order to maintain our leadership in the 21st century.”

Addressing his relationship with the president, he said the once-rival candidates have “become close personal friends” and that he plans to be President Obama’s running mate in the 2012 election.

The full interview will air on Thursday’s NewsHour.