Biden Enjoying Role as Vice President, Close Friendship With Obama

BY David Chalian  January 28, 2011 at 8:29 AM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama

Vice President Biden says running with Barack Obama in 2008 was “the best decision I’ve made.” Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

At the end of Jim Lehrer’s interview Thursday with the vice president, he asked Mr. Biden to describe his relationship with President Obama.

“It’s one that — I’ll tell you how he’s described it. He’s described it as one where we’ve become close personal friends,” Vice President Biden said.

He went on to describe a conversation he had earlier in the day at his private weekly lunch with the president. “I said, ‘You know, what’s made this job so easy for me? Of all the candidates running for president when we were debating one another, the only two that didn’t have one single philosophic difference are you and I.’”

“And it’s literally true. If you go back and look at every disagreement all the candidates had, the only one — ours were slight, nuanced differences. But we were philosophically on the same page in everything, which also makes it easier and makes it easier,” Mr. Biden added.

(Sen. John McCain’s campaign clearly had a different interpretation of the facts when it launched this ad in 2008.)

Mr. Biden’s initial reluctance to taking the vice presidential slot is nowhere to be seen. “It is the best decision I’ve made,” he told Lehrer. “I’m sure [President Obama's] just trying to be nice to me — he says, it’s the best decision he’s made. I think that’s how we both feel about it.”

THE RUNNING MAN

Rahm Emanuel will get to run for mayor of Chicago after all.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday against a challenge to Emanuel’s Chicago residency. Earlier this week a lower court ordered Emanuel be taken off the ballot because he will not have lived in the city for a full year prior to the Feb. 22 election.

Emanuel returned to Chicago last September after stepping down as President Obama’s chief of staff. It was that time in Washington that led to the residency dispute.

The former North Side congressman was quick to restart his campaign, the Chicago Tribune reports. “Within minutes of the high court ruling, Emanuel was back shaking hands with voters, taking a congratulatory call from his old boss, President Barack Obama, and working to recapture an aura of invincibility he had worked hard to project until an Appellate Court ruling threatened to boot him from the Feb. 22 contest.”

The Illinois high court’s decision came two hours before the first live televised debate between Emanuel and the three other major candidates running to replace Mayor Richard Daley, who is retiring: former Chicago public schools president Gery Chico, former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun and city clerk Miguel del Valle.

The moderators of Thursday’s debate went immediately to the court’s ruling. Emanuel’s response: “The good news is, now that we have the Supreme Court decision, it’s behind us. Hopefully this will be the last question about it, for all of us, including myself.”

‘CLOSER TO HOME’

Indiana Rep. Mike Pence announced Thursday he would not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012, but he did leave open the possibility of running for governor in the Hoosier state.

“I’m open to running for governor,” Rep. Pence told the Indianapolis Star. “We’re going to take the next several months to travel across the state and hear what Hoosiers have to say. We’ll seriously consider it.”

The 51-year-old congressman easily won re-election to a sixth term last November. In recent weeks, as Rep. Pence’s self-imposed deadline to decide on a presidential bid neared, some conservatives launched an effort urging the Republican to run.

In a letter to supporters, Rep. Pence admitted he was “humbled” by those who believed he should pursue the presidency, but he said “our calling is closer to home.”

His decision could leave an opening for another Indiana official in the GOP field, current Gov. Mitch Daniels, who can’t seek a third term.

The chair of the Republican Governors Association, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, issued a boastful statement Thursday saying he was encouraged by Rep. Pence’s decision. “While the Republican presidential field lost a strong voice today, I am confident the people of Indiana will benefit from Mike’s decision,” Gov. Perry said.

NEW FACE

At the end of his third week on the job, President Obama’s chief of staff, Bill Daley, wrapped up the West Wing reorganization that has been underway for the last several months.

In an email to staff, Daley announced senior staff changes, including the most high profile among them, the new press secretary.

Jay Carney, the former TIME Magazine reporter and bureau chief who has spent the last two years serving as Vice President Biden’s communications director, will take over the podium as the public face of the Obama administration once Robert Gibbs steps down in a couple of weeks.

The choice of Carney, combined with the elevation of former health care policy adviser Nancy Anne Deparle and director of scheduling Alyssa Mastromonaco to deputy chiefs of staff for policy and operations, respectively, indicate the president didn’t want to go outside the White House to bring in a lot of new blood for these senior staff roles.

“What has emerged is a staff that is well-versed in the ways of the Obama operation but not necessarily as entrenched in its culture. Democratic operatives who have long complained about the insular nature of the Obama West Wing said they are hopeful members of the new group will conduct greater outreach as they develop strategy for the next two years,” writes Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post.

TEA TIME?

In case you missed it, the Senate Tea Party Caucus held its first meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Check out our full report of the inaugural event by clicking here.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.