President Obama expressed mild frustration with how Vice President Joe Biden’s “phrasing” on the campaign trail can distract from his message, but the president blamed the media for that phenomenon.
Obama dismissed Sarah Palin’s suggestion that he bump Biden off the ticket in favor of Hillary Clinton. “You know, the country’s not as divided or obsessed with gaffes or some stray remark as Washington is,” he told Entertainment Tonight during an interview Wednesday evening.
Palin’s suggestion was prompted by Biden saying, in a discussion of Romney’s distaste for Obama’s Wall Street reform bill, that Romney’s policies would “put y’all back in chains.”
Obama maintained that Biden’s larger point is correct, though he did not defend the turn of phrase. “What Joe Biden was talking about again is an example of a substantive argument — a substantive issue, that the American people should be concerned about — and his phrasing is a distraction from what is at stake,” said the president.
Former Gov. Doug Wilder, D-Va., who was the first black governor elected in the country, denounced Biden’s remark. “First of all it’s divisive and certainly uncalled for,” Wilder told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “We all know [Biden is] gaffe prone, but . . . slavery is nothing to joke about!”
Wilder noted that Biden “apologists” were saying that he didn’t mean to evoke a slavery image. Obama added himself to that list earlier in the day by arguing that Biden was speaking strictly about the potential effect of Romney’s Wall Street proposals.
“In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that,” Obama told People Magazine. “The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that’s not how it was meant,” he also said.