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Biden v. Cheney

By Dan Froomkin
11:54 AM ET, 04/ 8/2009

Vice President Biden never looks better than when he's being compared to his predecessor, and I think he knows it.

So rather than duck CNN's questions yesterday about former vice president Dick Cheney's recent provocations, Biden -- like President Obama a few weeks ago -- engaged in a spirited rebuttal.

The Associated Press reports: "Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday his predecessor, Dick Cheney, is 'dead wrong' when he says President Barack Obama's national security policies are making the United States less safe. Biden said the exact opposite is true and added that President George W. Bush's vice president was part of a dysfunctional decision-making system."

Video and transcript after the jump.

From the transcript:

Gloria Borger: "Let's talk about your predecessor for a moment, if I might. Former Vice President Cheney took a big swipe at your foreign policies, this administration's foreign policies. And he told John King of CNN recently that President Obama's actions, all over the world, have made us less safe. Was Dick Cheney out of line?"

Biden: "I don't know if he's out of line, but he was dead wrong. This administration -- the last administration left us in a weaker posture than we have been any time since World War II, less regarded in the world, stretched more thinly than we ever had been in the past, two wars under way, virtually no respect in entire parts of the world.

"And so we have been about the business of repairing and strengthening us. I guarantee you, we are safer today, our interests are more secure today, than they were any time during the eight years -- "

Borger: "So, we're more safe?"

Biden: "We are more safe. We're more secure. Our interests are more secure, not just at home, but around the world. We are rebuilding America's ability to lead.

"I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office -- and he was a great guy. I enjoyed being with him. And he said to me, he said, 'Well, Joe,' he said, 'I'm a leader.' And I said, 'Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one's following.'

"People are beginning to follow the United States again as a consequence of our administration."

Wolf Blitzer: "What are you doing differently as vice president as compared to Dick Cheney?"

Biden: "Well, I think the biggest thing we're doing is, I'm operating in concert with the president."

"There are not -- there are -- look, everybody talks about how powerful Cheney was. His power weakened America, in my view. Here's what I mean by that. What I mean by that was, there was a divided government. There was Cheney as his own sort of separate national security agency, and then there was the National Security Agency.

"There was [former secretary of state Colin] Powell, who didn't agree with Cheney, and Cheney off with [former defense secretary Donald] Rumsfeld. I mean, there was a divided government, a divided administration. The strength of this administration is that the president and I work in concert."

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