Vice President Joe Biden rebuked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday as “naïve” for calling Republicans her chief enemy.
Speaking at an event honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale in Washington, Biden, who is weighing challenging Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, offered his most emphatic critique of his party’s front-runner.
“It is possible, it is necessary to end this notion that enemy is the other party,” Biden told the crowd of Washington notables that included members of Congress and former President Jimmy Carter. “End this notion that it is naïve to think we can speak well of the other party and cooperation. What is naïve is to think it is remotely possible to govern this country unless we can. That is what is naïve.”
Clinton was asked last week to name which enemy she has made in her career that she was most proud of and responded with a list. “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians; probably the Republicans,” she said.
“How can you govern this incredibly diverse democracy without arriving at consensus,” Biden said, deepening the critique he first deployed Monday evening. “It’s simply not possible.”
Coming hours after he revised his account of his contemporaneous support for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Biden also repeatedly highlighted his close relationship with President Barack Obama.
“I spent 5-7 hours a day with him every day for the past seven years, except when we’re out of the country,” Biden said, increasing his estimate from “4-7” hours earlier in the day.
“John Kerry is a great Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is a great Secretary of State,” he added. “But there are times when only the vice president—if it’s known in his relationship with the president—can speak for the United States when the president can’t be there.”
Raising his voice as he concluded his remarks, Biden praised Mondale, but emphasized his comments directed at Clinton.
“It’s most important that everyone in this room understand the other team is not the enemy,” Biden said. “If you treat it as the enemy, there is no way you can ever resolve the problems we have.”