Jill Biden: Joe could have been Secretary of State or VP

Jake Turcotte

You know all the talk about Vice President Cheney's executive power grab and if the Obama administration is going to roll back some of the new turf?

In fact, the incoming vice president might be expanding the reach. His wife announced yesterday that the whole Biden family is going to be vice president - not just Joe!


The incoming VP and his wife (the one he calls "drop dead gorgeous") made a surprise appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show yesterday and what she said certainly surprised her husband. So much so that he hushed her on the air.

While discussing president-elect Obama's offer to Biden last August to be his No. 2, the VP-elect said he needed some time to think about it. Then his wife clarified.

"Joe had the choice to be Secretary of State or Vice President and I said Joe...", she began.

"Shhhhhhhhh!," hushed her husband.

Pause. Laughter. Applause.

"Well, he did," she said defiantly. More cheers. More laughter.


Undoubtedly, the vice president-elect knew his wife just made news. The kind of news that would involve a press release being sent out later in the day.

After Oprah assured the Bidens that everything was all right, Jill continued.

"If you're secretary of state, you'll be away, we'll never see you, you know," she said. "I'll see you at a state dinner once in awhile. But I said, if you are vice president, the entire family, because they worked so hard for the election, they can be involved. They can come to our home. They can go to events, they can be with us all the time. And that's what's important to us."

What she meant was...

The incoming VP didn't discuss his wife's comment, and Oprah didn't push either on it. As for a press release, sure enough, it didn't take the VP-elect's office much time to "clarify".

"Like anyone who followed the presidential campaign this summer, Dr. Jill Biden knew there was a chance that President-elect Obama might ask her husband to serve in some capacity and that, given his background, the positions of Vice President and Secretary of State were possibilities," spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander said in a statement. "Dr. Biden's point to Oprah today was that being Vice President would be a better fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more. To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only -- to be his running mate. And the Vice President-elect was thrilled to accept the offer."

Job offers

So was he offered either position back in August? Not likely, said democratic strategist Bob Shrum to Chris Matthews yesterday on Hardball.

"I don't think it's literally true," he said. "I don't think Barack Obama was in the business of offering cabinet posts to anyone at that point in the campaign."

"I think Biden might have had a sense there was a pretty good chance he could be Secretary of State," he continued. "But I suspect the conversation between the new vice president and his wife probably went a little beyond what actually happened in the meeting with Obama".

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