New Book Offers Biden Anecdotes From 2008
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Joe Biden often described the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, as his friend.
But a new book by Richard Wolffe describes a scene in which Biden tried to confront McCain.
"Biden was offended about a story pushed by conservative operatives about his daughter getting into trouble with the police," Wolffe writes in the book, "Renegade," released Tuesday.
Wolffe, who covered the presidential campaign for Newsweek and now works as a political analyst for MSNBC, doesn't explain what the "trouble" was. But Ashley Biden was charged in 2002 with obstructing an officer during an incident outside a Chicago nightclub. The charge was dropped after she apologized.
Biden brushed aside his staff's suggestion that he release a statement, according to Wolffe. Instead, he said, "Hell, no. I'm going to call John myself," Wolffe wrote.
When McCain refused to take his call, Biden was even more annoyed. He tried again when the candidates were in New York on the anniversary of 9/11, preparing for a forum on public service.
"McCain's aides said he could not be disturbed, but that did not inhibit Joe Biden," Wolffe wrote. "He walked up to McCain's door and thumped on it. 'John McCain,' he shouted. 'It's Joe Biden. The next time I phone you, take the damn call.'"
Biden's communications director, Jay Carney, did not dispute the book's account.
"However, Vice President Biden and Senator McCain were friends for years before the campaign, they have talked multiple times since the campaign, and they remain friends," Carney said.
"Renegade" focuses on Barack Obama's run for the White House. But it also contains anecdotes and behind-the-scenes moments involving Biden, including the struggle by Obama's campaign aides to deal with Biden's verbose tendencies.
According to the book, members of Obama's inner circle believed he was always leaning toward Biden as a running mate, but Obama's advisers had doubts. They questioned whether Biden wanted the job and whether he had put aside the tension with Obama during their time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chaired.
The book describes the longtime Delaware senator as "disdainful" of Obama as a freshman senator and quotes Obama senior adviser Pete Rouse as saying they "weren't particularly close" in the Senate.
"Biden took pride in his Senate seniority and broad experience in public life, and he seemed to view Barack as somewhat of an impatient pretender," Rouse told Wolffe. Rouse also said those perceptions changed when they got to know each other during the campaign.
Carney, responding to Wolffe's book, said Biden "always admired and respected" Obama. Wolffe wrote that Biden and Obama "clicked" when they sat down in a Minneapolis hotel to discuss the job of vice president in August. Biden wanted to be a confidante and adviser, and Obama liked Biden's experience passing legislation, including the 1994 crime bill.