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Interview with Vice-President Elect Joe Biden

Aired December 22, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Vice President-Elect Joe Biden in a prime time exclusive.
The hard-fought and historic election behind him, now the ultimate test -- with the whole world watching, how will he and Barack Obama bring America back to greatness?

Will he reinvent the vice presidency?


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: And that I be, essentially, his counselor-in-chief.


KING: Joe Biden on the challenge of the century right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

A great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE -- one of many visits that he's made to this program, but not as the vice president-elect. He is Joe Biden, the former senator -- former senator from Delaware, soon to be, on January 20th, the vice president of the United States, author of a terrific book, "Joe Biden: Promises to Keep." It is now out in paperback.

He joins us for this primetime exclusive.

Joe, good to have you back. You wrote in your book...

BIDEN: It's good to be back with you, Larry.

KING: You wrote in your book about the great lesson you learned from your father, which was get up. And your mother pushing you to get past your stuttering as a child.

When you envelope all of that and then look at it, can you believe where you are?

BIDEN: Well, in one sense, no; in another sense, yes. My mother convinced all of her kids that there wasn't a single thing we couldn't do. And the good news was, we believed it.


BIDEN: But it was always -- it was always, you know, get up, no one is any better than you, you're no better than anybody else, but no one is better than you. And if you were raised in our house, she'd say, "You're a Biden."

And I remember years later thinking, well, what's a Biden, you know?


BIDEN: But my mother was always one of these folks who just absolutely, positively instilled confidence in you.

KING: And she is still living, right?

BIDEN: Yes. She's living with me. She's 91, almost 92. I guarantee you she's watching us tonight. Literally, Larry, she watches you every single night. She's a night owl. And then she'll say to me the next morning, "Joe, did you see Larry King last night? Did you hear what he said?"

I said, "No, mom, I didn't," or I did.

And so I just wanted -- I hope I do well on the show, Larry, because I'll be told how I did.

KING: All right. Let's start.

How did you learn -- the moment you learned that Senator Obama wanted Senator Biden to be his running mate?

BIDEN: Well, he had called me about a month before he chose me to ask whether or not I'd consider being as -- you know the term, Larry, vetted -- meaning would I consider a team of lawyers going over everything in my background, from my voting regard to my finances, to see whether or not I would pass muster, assuming he chose me as vice president.

And I was riding on the train, which I've done every day for over 7,000 trips. And I said, "I'd have to think about it."

And he said, "Well, why is that?" And I said, "Well, I just have to think about it. I never thought about being vice president and I'd have to talk with my family."

And he said, "Can you get back to me?"

And I did, I think about 24 hours later. And I said, "I'll be vetted, but I -- but even if you choose me, I still want to talk to you before that -- before I would agree to accept."

And then several -- then I got squirreled out to -- he was campaigning in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

And I got a phone call, would go masquerade myself out there?

They provided a plane for me and snuck me into this hotel. And we spent three-and-a-half hours talking about the role of vice president.

And he said, "Well, it's down to you and somebody else." And he said, "I'll give you a call later."

And I was literally taking my wife to the dentist. She was the one getting the root canal, not me. And as I -- as she got situated in the chair and me in the waiting room, I got a call from Barack and he asked me.

And we had already agreed, Jill and I, that if asked, to say yes. That's how it all unfolded.

KING: Did you ever know who the other person was?

BIDEN: Well, I think I do, but I don't want to, you know, speculate on that.

KING: What kind of vice -- now there are many kinds of vice presidents. There's the Mondale brand, the Gore brand, the Cheney brand.

What's -- what's the Biden brand?

BIDEN: Well, I think the Biden brand is going to be as different as all three of those you suggested in the sense that -- look, Larry, I think that the role of the vice president is determined, in large part, by his relationship with the president and the circumstances that administration finds themselves in.

And so when Barack asked me about what I expected in return for accepting -- if I accepted, what -- I said I want to be there when you make every -- every critical decision you make. I want to be in the room, because I have a significant amount of experience. I'd like to be able to give my input. And you're president. If you conclude my judgment is not the right judgment, I abide by that. But I want an opportunity to have an input.

And so my role as vice president is -- unlike some of the others, I've asked for no specific portfolio -- that is, I take care of the environment or one particular area -- and that I be, essentially, his counselor-in-chief.

And thus far, as the campaign -- as the administration has begun to unroll -- we're rolling out our cabinet and the rest -- that's the role I've played. And I hope that's the role I'll play for the next four years.

KING: Have you been consulted on every cabinet post announced?

BIDEN: Yes. As a matter of fact, I've been more than consulted. I've been asked to submit my own recommendations. I've been there at the table, with a small group of people, when each of these cabinet potential nominees have been debated. I have indicated and weighed in who I thought was the preferable candidate or candidates.

And so I've been involved in every single one of these decisions.

KING: What happens, Senator, when a vice -- you're not a senator -- you're (INAUDIBLE) -- yes, you're always a senator. What happens... BIDEN: Yes.

KING: Yes.

What happens when a vice president -- when Joe Biden disagrees with his president?

BIDEN: Well, I think there's -- there's two kinds of disagreements. One is a disagreement on policy. And he is the president. I am not the president. I am there to give him my best advice, help him accomplish what he and I promised during the campaign.

But -- I don't expect this ever to happen, but it's possible there could be a fundamental disagree on principle -- on a very principled decision. And I think it's not happened in the past, but if that were to happen in the extreme, the only option a vice president has, I think, is to demur and step down.

Now, he is the president of the United States.

Now, the good news is that, if you look at our voting records that overlap -- the years that Barack and I overlapped -- they're almost identical. When we each ran separately in the campaign, each seeking the nomination, there was virtually no difference in our position on the important issues. And during the campaign there have been no differences.

So I'm sure there will be differences in nuance, differences in tactics. But the good news is I think Barack did what most presidents attempt to do, is pick someone who was ideologically, philosophically in tune with him. And so I don't expect that to happen.

But he is the president. It is his decision. I give him my best advice. He makes the decision and I try to implement -- help him implement that decision.

KING: We'll be right back with Senator Joe Biden, the vice president-elect.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden.

He's in Delaware and we're in California.

The economy, Joe, the president-elect wants a major stimulus package.

What's the latest?

How big?

BIDEN: Well, we need a major stimulus package. Barack and I have been calling for -- during the campaign, as candidates, starting this September -- the need for a major stimulus package.

You may recall that was a point of contention between John McCain and Sarah Palin, on the one hand, and Barack and me, on the other.

The economy has continued to worsen during those months. And, now, Larry, as you know, because you have so many people on your show, economists from the center-left and the center-right, all the way across the spectrum, all agree that we need a significant economic recovery package focused on jobs -- and because the economy is pretty much in a tailspin right now.

The effort taken by -- to sort of shore up the financial markets and, as people euphemistically say, Wall Street -- has had some impact. But it hasn't had the impact that is needed to revive economic growth.

And Barack and I believe there are sort of two wheels to this scooter, Larry. One is the liquidity, as they say, of the financial markets. That is, money to lend, businesses being able to borrow, consumers being able to borrow and have money available to them.

But the other end is the economic growth needed, the creation of 2.5 million jobs, which we think needs to be done. And toward that end, we will, after some considerable consultation with our economic team and our Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House and the Senate, hopefully be supporting a package -- that is, a piece of legislation in January that will, in fact, create -- immediately stimulate the economy by creating new jobs. And new jobs, Larry, that aren't just make work. New jobs that will also have the long-term benefit of changing the economy.

KING: Right.

BIDEN: For example, we believe we need to invest in a new grid, a so-called smart grid. That is a way to transport electricity generated by wind and solar throughout the nation.

It has a double effect. It will create million -- thousands of new jobs that are high paying jobs. It will leave in its aftermath a structure that will allow us to not emit as many greenhouse gases. It will begin to save the environment. It will create economic growth throughout the country.

So it's not just job creation...

KING: I got you...

BIDEN: ...but creating jobs in areas that have long-term impact.

KING: And you think you can create 2.5 million jobs by 2011?

BIDEN: Yes, we think we can. And it's a combination of -- right now what we're trying to do is stop the hemorrhaging of jobs. We're losing tens of thousands of jobs per month. So the combination of stopping the projected job loss and creating new jobs will be a total of 2.5 million. And we believe we can do that by investing in, as I said, new technologies; by investing in infrastructure -- building roads and bridges -- all things, by the way, that add to the productivity of the country, that keep American businesses in America, that...

KING: How do you...

BIDEN: ...that generate high paying jobs that can't be exported.

KING: How about saving homes, foreclosures and the like?

BIDEN: Saving homes is part of it. You will see part of our package will be significant assistance on mortgage foreclosures -- mortgage abatement, because that's the root cause of this problem, the so-called subprime mortgage crisis. And we believe that has to play a larger part in this overall recovery package than it's played thus far.

So you will see that that will be part of our economic recovery package.

KING: Do you agree with the president-elect that we've been asleep at the switch?

BIDEN: Well, we clearly have in the regulatory side. You see what's recently happened with Madoff and the billions of dollars he's been able -- and if you look at it now, in retrospect, even the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission has said his folks were quote "asleep at the switch." I think that's the phrase he used or something very similar to that.

KING: Yes.

BIDEN: And this is all borne out of this sort of -- this laissez faire notion of, you know, Wall Street can regulate itself. We want to maintain this strong capitalist system. But the idea that it has no oversight virtually in the past, that era is over in this new administration.

KING: Let me take a quick break and come back and ask you about the bailout on Friday, and about Madoff.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden.

What do you make of this whole Madoff thing?

BIDEN: Well, what I make of it is what I read now, that it seems as though, to use your phrase earlier, that the regulators -- the SEC and others -- were just asleep at the switch. It's now where we're -- we're now reading an awful lot of his fraud and chicanery were a lot more transparent if just someone had been looking than it now appears.

KING: Yes. BIDEN: But it's devastating. It's devastating not only to the individuals that he took, but a lot of those individuals also were people heading up philanthropies and trusts. And so it's affected -- it's a significant ripple effect. And not only have wealthy people been badly hurt, but the very people that they were attempting to benefit, in some cases.

KING: Sure.

All right, Bush...

BIDEN: The charities.

KING: On Friday, the president approves $13 billion, bailing out GM and Chrysler. Ford has just asked to sort of have a standby money available if ready.

What did you make of that?

BIDEN: Well, I think the president did the right thing in acting. Barack and I both thought that it was necessary for the -- we had hoped that the Congress would act. But that got blocked by -- it got blocked by our Republican colleagues.

And here's the point, though. The president -- President Bush has said -- and there's only one president at a time, so we can't micromanage his package. He's said that he's put them in a position where they will be able to go through March, but that the ultimate test is viability. Meaning, at the end of that time, will they have restructured their companies in a way that you can -- a reasonable person can take a look at what they are proposing, what they have done, that they're likely to be financially solvent in the out years?

And that's going to require the companies getting all the stakeholders together -- not just the management, but labor, but as well as the dealerships, part suppliers and everyone. And it's going to require some sacrifices on everyone's part in order to get to that point.

KING: Let me hold you there a second and we'll be right back with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden.

Don't go away.



BIDEN: Since I've never been called a man of few words, let me say it as simply as I can. Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States of America.


KING: We're back with Joe Biden, the vice president-elect. He'll be sworn in on January 20th.

Some are calling Obama the new FDR. They're are raising tremendous expectations.

Can they be too high, frankly?

BIDEN: Well, they can be too high, but the need cannot be overstated. The fact is, Larry, there's never been a time when the economy has been in this dire shape, not only in the United States, but worldwide, since FDR. And I would argue that we have additional problems we're facing, being left the world in the state that it's in -- two wars, a concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, a circumstance where we are less -- we are less highly regarded in the world than we have been in any recent time in the past.

So the truth of the matter is this new administration -- our administration has a gigantic task and responsibility, but also a real opportunity. And I think Barack Obama -- although the expectations at home and abroad are very high, I think he has the capacity to meet the expectations of getting this economy back on track and reestablishing our place in the world.

KING: You have on your team -- an impressive team. I think even rivals would admit that. But you have four presidential rivals -- Obama has. He has you, Hillary Clinton, Richardson and Tom Vilsack. That sounds like Lincoln.

Is that going to work?


BIDEN: Well, it will work, because if you take a look -- again, you know, if you -- I know you've read the "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin's book...

KING: Yes. A great book.

BIDEN: You know, the differences between Seward and Lincoln were profound. The difference between Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack Obama, to take three, were not profound differences. We all were on the same basic page, with difference -- different points of emphasis. And the arguments among us all was about leadership.

And that's been settled. That's been indisputably settled, that the leader is Barack Obama. So I don't think you're going to find it as difficult to -- I don't think you'll find any difficulty in us all signing on to the objectives of the Obama-Biden administration.

KING: Your expertise, among many, is foreign policy. You chaired the committee.

How well, frankly, is Senator Clinton going to do in that post of secretary of State? BIDEN: Oh, I think she'll do very well. There's real excitement. As you know, Larry, I've been traveling all over the world. I know an awful lot of these world leaders personally and some of them very well.

There's a genuine excitement. They think thing two things. They think, number one, they know she is a person of real consequence, number one.

Number two, they know, in the picking of her, it shows there is a real unity of purpose in the Democratic Party that controls the Congress now.

And, thirdly, they know that she is very, very tough and that when she speaks, she'll be speaking for the president.

And for all of those reasons -- and, by the way, she knows -- she knows a boatload of these world leaders. She has relationships with them. She will not be starting from scratch.

So I think she'll do very, very well.

KING: If President Obama -- now President Obama -- comes to speak to Vice President Biden, and he said, "Joe, frankly, how would you use Bill Clinton, if at all?," what would you say?

BIDEN: Well, I would say he has great, great goodwill around the world and here at home. And I would use him in any way, you, Mr. President, feel that he can advance our agenda, because he will be a team player. And so I can picture there are circumstances and places where President Bill Clinton could continue to play a role.

Look, he still has the Clinton Global Initiative. He still is very involved with stemming the spread of AIDS and other diseases. And I'm confident he'll work very closely with the administration and not at odds with it.

So I think there's a -- there's a number of ways, depending on what the immediate, urgent need is, that President Bill Clinton, as well as former presidents -- other former presidents -- could play a role.

KING: When do we get out of Iraq?

BIDEN: We get out of Iraq -- we will be out of Iraq within the next two years, our combat forces. Barack Obama made a commitment during the campaign he would do that. You now have the president of the United -- the present president of the United States, George W. Bush -- having negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement. They call it a SOFA, which calls for the withdrawal of combat troops from cities within a time frame and also drawing down, within the next year-and-a- half, all the combat troops.

There's a slight difference in the exact number of months Barack talked about and the administration negotiated, but it's all within the same ballpark. The question is whether or not we are going to be able to use our good offices to move the Iraqi factions that continue to exist -- they're not killing each other as much as they were in the past -- to work out a long-term political settlement within Iraq that leaves behind a country that is a not a threat to its neighbors, is not a haven for terror and is able to sustain its own -- its own government.

And that's going to be the harder trick than withdrawing troops. But we will have combat troops out of Iraq by the next election -- before that.

KING: More from Vice President-Elect Joe Biden right after this.


KING: We're back with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden.

By the way, Joe -- forgive me for calling you Joe, but I know you so many years.

BIDEN: No, call me Joe. No, no, no, no. Come on.

KING: We have supped together.



BIDEN: We have.

KING: Did you...

BIDEN: They told me, Larry, that I've been on your show 99 times.

KING: All right. This is...

BIDEN: It's hard to believe anyone has been around that long time.

KING: I think this -- this might be the 100th. You might lead.


KING: Did you -- did you (INAUDIBLE)...

BIDEN: Well, I've enjoyed -- I've enjoyed every trip.

KING: What happens in Afghanistan?

BIDEN: Well, Afghanistan is a lot tougher, Larry. We're being left a very, very difficult situation. I have been on your show in the past. and others, in pointing out as a senator and as a candidate how we have neglected Afghanistan in my view. We haven't provided sufficient economic resources. We've not insisted that the world community keep their commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan, working on governance in Afghanistan, training people to be able to literally know how to run their city councils, et cetera, and town -- and trial organizations. And we've had insufficient number of forces because they've been diverted to Iraq.

And Barack Obama, during the campaign, as well as others of us who were running, but Barack and I in the campaign once he chose me after the nomination, after the convention, have been pointing out that one of the reasons to draw down additional troops in Iraq, beyond the necessity to do it on its own, was we need to be able to deploy more troops immediately to Afghanistan to help stabilize it.

But it's a much bigger problem than troops. Troops aren't going to solve the problem in Afghanistan.

KING: OK. The world's view of America, do you expect it to change? Right now, I think we're viewed militarily around the world, aren't we?

BIDEN: Well, I think we are and you know, you asked me earlier if I am worried about the exceedingly high expectations that people have for President Barack Obama. And I said domestically, I wasn't so worried about that, but internationally I am. I have been contacted by so many world leaders. Their expectation for Barack's presidency is overwhelming. They are so hungry to have an American leader who they think has a policy that reflects our stated values, as well as one they can talk to.

So, in a sense, Barack has already had -- before being sworn in -- an incredibly positive impact on our image around the world. Now, that's going to require, though, action to follow that. But it's like pushing on an open door, Larry. The rest of the world is looking for America's leadership. And I think that we have an opportunity to provide that.

KING: Colin Powell says close it, apparently Gates says close it, too. Cheney says keep it open. Guantanamo, where do you stand?

BIDEN: Close it and we will. We will. We're in the process of drawing up plans right now as to the most rational way in which to do that, that both protects the civil liberties that we so cherish, as well as protects our national security interests. And that is a process underway as to how to proceed to do that. We're working with Greg Craig, the new legal adviser to President Obama, has begun the process of garnering all the facts we can, just finding out exactly how many people are there, what they're there for, what the circumstances are, what the options are. We've been working with international countries, other countries to see about their willingness to take some of the prisoners back to their countries.

So there's a whole lot that's going on right now. It's going to be complicated to do it. It's going to take more than a couple months, but close it we must.

KING: Getting bin Laden, top priority?

BIDEN: Top priority. Top priority, in the sense that we know, figuratively speaking -- not figuratively. We know where bin Laden and al Qaeda are living. They are living in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, most probably in an area called the FATA, the Federally Administered Territory of Pakistan. And so part of the reason why we have to get the relationship correct with Pakistan, as well as make things -- put Afghanistan on a better glide path, is because without doing those two things it makes it incredibly more difficult to deal with acquiring the targets and acquiring the personnel who are al Qaeda and particularly bin Laden.

KING: We'll be right back. We'll touch some other bases with the vice president-elect right after this.


KING: We're back with Joe Biden. On Friday afternoon, the governor of Illinois, Blagojevich, said that he is not going to leave. Joe, he is not going to leave and he did nothing wrong and not guilty of anything. How do you respond?

BIDEN: My response is, I know in our system you are innocent until proven guilty, but those tapes that were released by the special prosecutor -- excuse me, by the U.S. attorney seem incredibly, incredibly incriminating. It's a decision for the people of Illinois to make and the legislature of Illinois to make. But from where I sit, he looks like a guy who is not capable of governing.

KING: The problem will be, what if he picked a senator this week to replace Obama; where would that stand?

BIDEN: Well, you know, I don't know what the Constitution of Illinois dictates, and whether or not that would be able to be stopped. I think it would require either the legislature in Illinois or the state courts to nullify that. I hope he would not do that. He has got to be -- he has got to understand that if he were to pick any nominee at this point that that person would be so tainted that it would really make it virtually impossible for them to represent the state of Illinois, whether or not they are good, bad or indifferent. I hope to God he wouldn't do that.

KING: The advance word is that the Republicans, if they go after any one of your nominees for the Cabinet, it will be Eric Holder as attorney general. Do you expect a fight there?

BIDEN: Well, I expect that some Republicans will try to wage a fight, but I don't expect Eric will have any difficulty ultimately being confirmed. And Eric Holder I've known for years. I knew him back when he was in the Clinton administration. I've known him since. He's a man of great integrity and capability. I think he will be confirmed by the Senate overwhelmingly.

KING: Reflecting, Joe, how do you feel about George Bush going out of office? Feel a little sorry for him? You've known him a long time.

BIDEN: Well -- well, I've known him a long time. It's presumptuous to feel sorry for another man. But I feel somewhat -- I feel somewhat badly for him. I think the incident in Iraq was -- was unfortunate, that guy throwing the shoes. It was just -- it was just uncalled for and was -- I think that President Bush, unlike Vice President Cheney, is, upon reflection, beginning to acknowledge some of the serious, if not mistakes, misjudgments that he made.

I don't like to see any president leave office being viewed as not having been successful. But the bottom line here is that we're all held accountable for our -- for our actions and our judgments when we're in public office. And his judgments on our economy and our foreign policy, I think, have been very poor.

And I think we're being left in a situation that he presided over an administration that was -- and a philosophy that was very damaging to our economy, as well as our security.

KING: I know, therefore, you won't tell a governor of a state what to do; you won't tell the governor of New York what to do. So what do you make of the thought of Caroline Kennedy coming to the Senate?

BIDEN: Well, I have to admit to you, I'm a big Caroline Kennedy fan. I -- I think she is a wonderful person. And -- but literally, Larry, I -- for me to suggest to the governor of a state who he should pick is just -- it's beyond my purview.

And here's the deal. You know, when people talk about the Kennedy dynasty or whatever, whoever gets picked in New York state is going to have to stand before the people of New York in the next 20 months or so, or less -- yes, I mean, yes, that's about right, 20, 21 months. And so, you know, that will be the ultimate test. And -- but -- but I -- I'm a -- personally, I feel a great affection to -- for Caroline Kennedy.

KING: We know over the years you've been great friends with John McCain. And you took some rough shots at each other during the past campaign. Has that been soothed? And how close are you?

BIDEN: We're still close. I was talking to Bob Gates about it, the secretary of defense, and -- because I was to contact John about a couple things. And -- but I called -- I called John. And he'd be -- I'm not telling tales out of school. He'd tell you on the show. And I said, "John, look, we've been friends all these years. The campaign is over. We both were, you know, on opposite sides of a hotly contested campaign, but I still" -- he said, "Look, Joe, we're still friends. We're still friends."

We're going to get together. I really believe -- I mean, John has been incredibly graceful. You know, my dad used to always say how difficult it is to be graceful in that circumstance. John has been completely graceful. He is my friend.

As I said during that campaign, even when we were having strong disagreements, if John McCain had called me in the middle of the campaign and said, "Joe, get in the plane and come to 2nd and Madison in St. Louis" -- if there is a 2nd and Madison -- "I can't tell you why, but I have to meet you," I'd get in the plane and go. And I was confident he'd do it for me. I'd still go. And I think he still would, too.

KING: We'll be right back with Vice President-elect Joe Biden after this.


KING: Back for a quick segment with the vice president-elect. The book, by the way, is now out in paperback. It's "Joe Biden: Promises to Keep."

Concerning Homeland Security, there have been no attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Do you think we might be attacked? Do you fear that? The predictions were we would be attacked again.

BIDEN: Well, the national -- our national intelligence community has pointed out that there are still plans being made by al Qaeda to attack the American homeland and our interests around the world, and that, over the last several years, al Qaeda has reconstituted itself. It's a genuine threat.

So I think that we have to do, quite frankly, a good deal more, particularly at that recent report that was issued by a commission, Larry, as you know, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. It was a sobering report.

KING: It was.

BIDEN: And so one of the things that I will be dealing with, because of my background in this area, for the president and in conjunction with the cabinet members, is that very issue. And so there's a good deal more we can and must do. We can't take anything for granted. And these guys take a long time in planning, and they have not gone away.

So I'm not predicting anything, except that we'd be foolhardy to not assume that we continue to be a target of extremists, particularly al Qaeda.

KING: Two segments left. We'll cover some more bases with Joe Biden right after this.


KING: We're back with Joe Biden. There has been much controversy over the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inaugural. He's been a guest on this show an awful lot, and he supported California's Proposition 8, a measure that outlaws gay marriage. He is also very opposed to abortion. I know the gay community in America appears to be up in arms. What do you make of this?

BIDEN: Well, I make of it of Barack Obama keeping his commitment. Barack Obama said you've got to reach out. You've got to reach a hand of friendship across the aisle and across philosophies in this country. We can't continue to be a red and blue country. We can't be divided like we have been. And he's made good on his promise.

And I would say to the gay and lesbian community, they have nothing to worry about. Barack Obama, every aspect of his life, every aspect of his public life, and every commitment he's made relating to equality for all people will be things that he will stick with, and that they should view this in the spirit in which he offered the opportunity to -- to Mr. Warren.

And so I -- I think it is -- I understand their frustration. As Barack himself said, I do not agree. I do not agree with a number of things that Mr. Warren has said. But this is an attempt to begin to heal the country. And if we're going to have dialogue and get things resolved, other than continue this bitter kind of fight, we're going to have to take chances on extending hands.

But we are not -- this administration is not going to back off its commitment for equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

KING: All right. Since we're all up and hopes are high, when do you expect peace in the Middle East?

BIDEN: Well, I expect that we cannot -- I know we cannot have peace unless we continue to try. And this administration -- I commit to you, in the name of the administration, that we are going to invest every bit of capital we have in trying to bring about peace in the Middle East. It is a -- some -- it's like the Rubik's Cube of international politics.

But, you know, Larry, I joke sometimes with my friends when they say, "Well, it can never happen." Well, for over 300 years, the Irish and the British didn't get along at all. Matter of fact, a lot more than didn't get along. And George -- George Mitchell -- I'll never forget what he said. They said, "Well, you know, how did it work?" He said, "We had 700-and-some days of failure and one day of success. But we wouldn't have had the day of success unless you had the 700- and-some days of failure."

We are going to keep at it, because it's too important for it not to happen.

KING: Recently, the vice president, Dick Cheney, showed you around the quarters where you will live. Like it?

BIDEN: I liked it very much. I hadn't been there in a long while. I don't mean because we weren't invited. I just hadn't had an opportunity to be there. It is very unlike the White House in the sense that it's a very livable residence.

KING: It's a home.

BIDEN: It's big. It's a home. It's a home. And -- and so, you know, the great advantage of it is, from my perspective, it's a mile and a half from my three grand daughters, where they live, and less than that from the school they go to. So, for example, my two grand daughters, eight and 10, are already telling their mom, "We need new bicycles so we can ride to Pop's house after school." So -- so the great advantage of -- my eight-year-old says, Larry, "Hey, Pop, and it's got a swimming pool!"

So there's a whole lot of good things about it. We're looking forward to being there and using it as a place, Larry, to try to bring people together. I think we're going to use that home an awful lot to bring my Republican and Democratic colleagues and differing -- people with different views together hopefully.

KING: Call it -- call it the peace house.

BIDEN: That's what I hope.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Joe Biden right after this.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with the vice president-elect. Do you think Governor Palin has a political future?

BIDEN: Oh, I think so. I don't know exactly what it is. Look, she's an incredibly engaging person. I got a chance to spend a few minutes with her when we pulled together all the national governors up in Philadelphia. And she's a really likable person. And I -- I'm confident that she has a future. Exactly what, I -- you know, who -- who -- I don't know. But I think she'll be around.

KING: What do you expect of the inaugural? There's never been anything like it. We have a black president. We have the largest crowd that will ever attend an event in Washington ever, maybe the largest crowd in America ever. What do you -- what do you make of all of this?

BIDEN: Well, Larry, I find it absolutely astounding. Some of the people who have been around a long, long time, who are extremely -- who are extremely experienced and -- and sophisticated, as well as people who have never been involved in any of this -- there's no distinction between the CEO who says to me, "I've got to be there, even if it's in the crowd. I missed Martin Luther King's speech. I wish I'd gone. I will not miss this historic opportunity, this to happen." I mean, you know, "I missed being involved when John Kennedy was -- I should have gone. I'm not going to miss this."

I just think it's absolutely a reflection of the hope and the -- and the aspirations the American people have for their country, that they want to be there, because none of these folks want to -- look, they're telling me, Larry, that they're going to close down a whole interstate highway so they can park a minimum of 10,000 buses, use it as a parking lot.

I mean, and the -- the idea that people would go into that breach --0 but they want to be part of history. And it'll be an exciting moment, an exciting moment for me to be part of that, as well.

KING: Who will swear you in?

BIDEN: Justice Stevens, the -- the senior member of the court. I was extremely flattered that he -- he was willing to do that. And so that's who will swear me in.

KING: Have you named your puppy? This is big news.

BIDEN: No, but I -- my -- but my grand daughters have decided they're going to tell me what that name is, and I'm going to know it Christmas morning. They've already floated a number of names. They're literally on the phone -- my two middle ones -- calling their aunts and uncles and bouncing names off them. So this has become a very serious project.

KING: And you beat your president to it.

BIDEN: Well, I didn't mean to beat my president to it. Well, we still have one to go. We had -- what the public doesn't know is that -- because it's been amazing the interest it's generated -- I have always had German Shepherds from the time I was a kid through my adulthood. And I've trained them, and I've worked with them. And my wife has wanted another Labrador. So we are now scouring the -- the dog rescue places in the area to see if we can find a yellow lab.

KING: They're great dogs.

BIDEN: So that will be the next naming prospect.

KING: That's the way to do it.

BIDEN: So we're -- we're going to have -- we're going to have two dogs. And we're looking forward to it.

KING: We're about out of time. One more thing, one more of many in the years ahead, we hope, appearances, you and I. In your book, you say a question you got from people a lot during the campaign was, "Are we going to be OK?" So I'll ask it of you.

BIDEN: Yes, we are. We're going to be OK, not because of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. We're going to be OK because of the American people. They have more grit, determination, and courage than you can imagine.

You know, my mom has an expression. She said, "Bravery resides in every heart, and I expect it will be called upon." Well, let me tell you: the heart of the American people is just that. It's going to be called upon. What they're looking for, I pray, is just a leader who will listen and lay out a path for them. I have no doubt -- no doubt about the ability of this nation to recover.

KING: Thank you, Joe. God speed.

BIDEN: Thank you very much, Larry. Thank you so much.

KING: The vice president-elect, Joe Biden. You can find a transcript of this and all of our shows at And while you're there, sign up for our newsletter, e-mail alerts. Send us an I-Ask question, of course. Get on our blog,

Time now for "AC 360."