Biden Weighs In on Hillary’s Struggles and Reveals Obama Offered Financial Help During Son’s Illness

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DEM 2016 Biden
Behind every great vice-president ...Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

It’s no secret that Barack Obama believes in subsidizing Americans’ health-care costs. But last night, Vice-President Biden revealed just how personally his boss takes that mission.

In an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger, Biden recalled a lunch he’d had with the president, at a time when it looked like his late son Beau would need to resign as Delaware’s attorney general because of health problems. The vice-president told Obama that he’d been worrying about how to ensure that his son’s family was taken care of, should Beau stop drawing a salary.

I said, ‘But I worked it out,’” Biden remembered telling Obama. “I said, ‘But — Jill and I will sell the house and be in good shape.’”

In Biden’s retelling, Obama then stood up from his chair and said, “Don’t sell that house. Promise me you won’t sell the house … I’ll give you the money. Whatever you need, I’ll give you the money. Don’t, Joe — promise me. Promise me.”

Biden says he tried to deflect this offer, telling his boss, “’I don’t think we’re going to have to anyway.”

Promise me,” Obama supposedly replied.

Beau Biden was ultimately able to serve out his second term, and his father was able to keep that Delaware home. But after leaving office last January, Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer and died the following May.

Thanksgiving was hard,” the vice-president told Borger. “The idea of an empty chair, you know, was something no one looked forward to.”

On a separate and far lighter note, Biden weighed in on the Democratic primary race that he’d once considered joining. Asked for his thoughts on why the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had tightened in recent days, Biden credited the authenticity of the socialist senator’s commitment to reducing income inequality — an authenticity he implied the former secretary of State lacked.

I think that — that Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real, and he has credibility on it,” Biden said. “And that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth in a small group of people … Hillary’s focus has been other things up to now, and that’s been Bernie’s — no one questions Bernie’s authenticity on those issues.”

After the Sanders campaign touted Biden’s comments as though it were a covert endorsement, the vice-president sought to clarify his remarks on NBC’s Today show Tuesday morning.

What I meant was, for the last five years, she’s been engaged in foreign policy,” Biden told Savannah Guthrie. “This has been Bernie’s mantra from the time he’s gotten involved. Even when income inequality wasn’t as serious as it is today, it was his drumbeat. And so that’s what I meant.”