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Vice President Joe Biden today discussed last night's State of the Union address and told CBS This Morning that the emphasis on executive orders in the speech indicates that "We're just got going to sit around and wait for the Congress if they choose not to act."
"The President will take action where, in fact, he thinks it will spur action in the states and federally, and with the Congress, or where we can make some progress," Biden told co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell in the interview which was broadcast live, today, Jan. 29, 2014 on CBS This Morning (7:00-9:00 AM) on the CBS Television Network.
Biden also discussed his potential candidacy in 2016, telling CBS THIS MORNING, "Jill and I will make that decision later on down the road. It's too early to do that right now."
The Vice President said Hillary Clinton's decision to run or not, would "not directly" impact his own choice. "The only reason a man or woman should run for president, and I'm sure Hillary views it the exact same way, is if they think they're better positioned to be able to do what the nation needs at the moment," Biden said.
Excerpts of the interview are below. Watch the appearance below:
CHARLIE ROSE: With us now, the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. He joins us from the library at the Naval Observatory in Washington. Mr. Vice President, good morning. Let me begin with the State of the Union and what the President said. Why so much emphasis on executive orders when so many people believe they have limited abilities and most of the big things have to go through Congress?
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Most of the big things do have to go through Congress, and the President said, I want Congress to do that. As a matter of fact, as I sat there with John Boehner, he and I were talking about the prospects - before the President spoke - about the prospects of the house moving on immigration. Last year the President asked for a move on immigration and in fact everybody said no, it's dead on arrival. This year it looks like we may get something done. In the meantime, the President eased up some of the deportation that was underway. So the President will take action where, in fact, he thinks it will spur action in the states and federally, and with the Congress, or where we can make some progress. We're just not going to sit around and wait for the Congress if they choose not to act.
ROSE: But it seems to me that last night the President, including the remarkable portrait of Sergeant Remsburg, is somehow trying to Capture the spirit of America and build a kind of identification with this can-do attitude.
BIDEN: Well, he is. The President and I remain incredibly optimistic. Relative to the rest of the world, Charlie, and you know international relations, you travel the world - we are better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the economy of the 21st century. China, Europe, no matter where you go, America is the engine. We'll be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century in North America. We have the greatest work force in the world. So this is about taking advantage of The Assets that we have. And let's move. That's why the President put me in charge of this new task force that's going to gather all these forces including companies and universities and community colleges, to do the things that the American people say. Look, every initiative that the President has put forward, the polling data you have done and everyone else has done, show that the American people agree with us on it. So part of this is making the case repeatedly to the American people who in turn make the case to the Congress. So this is like we did before, Charlie, on energy, we said all of the above. We went out and we did renewables, we went out and we did oil, we went out and did gas, we went out and at the same time, it's the same thing, all of the above, man, we've got to move. The Middle class needs access.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, I know last night the President called for immigration reform again. But I noticed he left out the phrase "pathway to citizenship," which is a pretty big omission. He used that specific phrase last year. Does that mean you're willing to cut a deal with Republicans that would just provide legal status to illegal immigrants in this country?
BIDEN: No, it doesn't mean that. We still think far and away the preferable route to go is citizenship. We don't want two-tier people in America. Those who are legal but not citizens, and citizens. And so what we are saying is, and I said to John last night, pass something. If that's what you're going to pass, pass it. And to use the wonk-ish term, let the Congress get to conference, let the Congress battle it out to decide what the route is. Then we'll decide if it's good enough. Citizenship is the pathway.
ROSE: You've had a long career in the Congress and you were chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and now you have former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates writing a book saying you were wrong on almost every major decision in the last 40 years.
BIDEN: Well, you know Bob and I like each other, we both acknowledge each other possess integrity, as he said in his book, but we have disagreed for 40 years. I thought we should end the war in Vietnam, that's why I ran. He didn't think that. I thought Iran-Contra was a disaster, he thought it was a good idea. I thought Gorbachev was an agent of change. You remember, he encouraged Reagan not to view him as an agent of change. I thought we should have war crime tribunals in Bosnia. He thought we shouldn't. I thought we should end this war in Afghanistan, after taking care of al-Qaeda, which we're about to finish doing. He didn't. The President said last night, it's time to end the war in Afghanistan. That's not Bob's position.
O'DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, can I ask you then on Afghanistan? As we draw down our forces in Afghanistan, military leaders have said that they would like a force between 9 and 12,000 at the end of this year. You are calling for a much smaller force, why?
BIDEN: That is not true by the way. I read these reports about what I've called for -
O'DONNELL: How many troops should be there then?
BIDEN: My counsel is to the President privately. That's why, I think that's why it bothered Bob a lot, that the President listens to me a lot. I have taken no public position on that, so that's not true, #1. #2, there is a division within even the military as to how many troops should be left behind. But you know, the military's united on one thing, but I'm not sure Bob is, and that is if in fact there is no security agreement where our troops are guaranteed certain rights if they stay, the military says we shouldn't stay. So Karzai has to sign the so-called BSA agreement in order for anything to happen. The President is in the process of making that decision now. I'll keep my counsel to him and keep it private, and he will make a decision shortly. But here's the deal, we went there for a specific purpose: to defeat and dismantle al Qaeda and to prevent them from returning. We did not go there to nation-build, we did not go there to occupy. And the President said, this war is going to end. We're prepared to continue to train forces in Afghanistan, of the Afghan military and have a small CT operation there. That is a decision to be made by the President after consultation with the military. I don't know who is putting these numbers out, but ask anyone, no one has heard me say in the situation room, offer and specific number. I do that privately with the President.
ROSE: But you're saying the President is listening to you and not the Secretary of Defense.
BIDEN: No, I didn't say that, I said that Bob Gates in his book laments that the President listens to me.
O'DONNELL: Finally let me ask about your own future. Does your wife, Dr. Biden, think you might want to run for President?
BIDEN: Does my wife want me to run for President, is that what you said? I'm sorry.
O'DONNELL: Yes, does Jill want you to run for President?
BIDEN: Well, Jill and I will make that decision later on down the road. It's too early to do that right now. I've got a job to do in the meantime. And if I do the job well and decide to run for President, it'll help, if I do the job well and decide not to run for President, it won't help, and if I don't run for President it will all be okay.
ROSE: Will Hillary Clinton's decision affect your decision?
BIDEN: No, not directly. The only reason a man or woman should run for President, and I'm sure Hillary views it the exact same way, is if they think they're better positioned to be able to do what the nation needs at the moment. And what is the plan that you have for the country.