This is Chris Wallace. In the wake of Joe Biden taking himself out of the race for President, I interviewed the Vice President at his official residence. You can see the full interview on Fox News Sunday, but here is an excerpt.
Wallace: Mr. Vice President, thank you for this rare interview with Fox News Sunday.
Biden: Now that I’m not running, I can appear on Fox. Let the cabinet members do the low-ratings shows on MSNBC. Besides, your audience needs to know that I supported the raid to kill bin Laden.
Wallace: But three years ago, if I may, Mr. Vice President, I’m reading directly from a New York Times account of your remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat, you recounted your advice to President Obama as, quote, “Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go.”
Biden: You’re not telling the whole story, Chris. On Meet the Press a few months later, I said the full context, that I added, “Follow your instincts, Mr. President.” Of course, I knew his instincts. I knew he would do the raid. I’m not a Dick Cheney, I wanted him to feel that he made this decision all on his own.
Wallace: Are you jealous?
Biden: Of course, I am. I ran twice for this job. And I was all set, the third time’s a charm. Just an expression I made up.
Wallace: You have a way with words.
Biden: But this Republican Kevin McCarthy makes Hillary the victim. And then, in a one-two punch, if I can invent a phrase…
Wallace: Go for it.
Biden: …then this Democrat Sanders takes her off the hook on the emails. Could there still be an FBI indictment? Probably not. But if there is, who cares if I miss deadlines for the first couple of primaries? We can’t nominate Larry David.
Wallace: We’re a bit astray, Vice President Biden. To finish up — earlier this week, when everyone thought you were going to run for president, you had a third version of events about the raid. You said you walked the President up the stairs after the National Security Council meeting and told him he should do the raid.
Biden: That’s the story, and I’m sticking with it. Let’s leave all this to the oral history.
Wallace: That’s what White House press secretary Josh Earnest said about this.
Biden: Everyone plagiarizes me. Ever since I wrote my autobiography, Iacocca.
Wallace: Actually, the liberal New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said that when you ran for president in 1988, you took the life of British Labour Leader Neil Kinnock and made it your stump speech, as if his life were yours.
Biden: My speechwriter was just lazy.
Wallace: How do you explain that you lifted, word for word, sentences from Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey into your own speeches, as if their words were yours?
Biden: They were both dead.
Wallace: In that campaign against Dukakis, when arguing with a voter, you said you had a much higher IQ and went to law school on a full academic scholarship and graduated in the top half of your class, and you had three undergraduate degrees, but all that wasn’t true.
Biden: How do you know the voter’s IQ?
Wallace: Mr. Vice President, you yourself have been criticized as a serial plagiarist…
Biden: I think, Chris, you’re confusing me with Bill Cosby. I did not grope the wife of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter or the daughter of Sen. Christopher Coons. I don’t put drugs in drinks or give drinks to underage females. And all those photos about me inappropriately touching girls, they are blown-up.
Wallace: You mean overblown.
Biden: Blown-up and overblown. I wish I had a teleprompter, but I want to maintain eye contact with you. Is Mrs. Wallace here?
Wallace: No, and sir, this interview is entirely on-the-record. Those were the ground rules.
Biden: Then, here’s the take-away from this interview: I have never touched Hillary inappropriately.
Wallace: I think you misheard the original question. I said — Serial plagiarist.
Biden: First of all, the alleged plagiarism was sporadic.
Wallace: Because of it, sir, you quit the 1988 presidential race.
Biden: Race? I was in sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie houses in the ’60s.
Wallace: I beg to differ with you. If I may, sir, the record shows you never went down South.
Biden: I worked at an all-black swimming pool in the east side of Wilmington, I was involved in what the Negroes, I mean, blacks were thinking, what they were feeling.
Wallace: But your reputation…
Biden: Black reputations matter.
Wallace: Pardon me, sir but…
Biden: What the hell, I’m not running like Colonel Sanders. All reputations matter.
Wallace: Do you mean Bernie?
Biden: Of course, I do. Would Colonel Sanders honeymoon in the Soviet Union?
Wallace: Let me just finish this line of questioning, Mr. Vice President. The Dukakis campaign raised this plagiarism issue…
Biden: Mike Dukakis? He’s the salt of the earth.
Wallace: In what way?
Biden: I don’t know. I just coined that expression.
Wallace: With all respect, Mr. Vice President…
Biden: Look, Chris, let me let you in on something. Based on my own experiences, I made sure, and I’m proud of this, that the Common Core curriculum is hard on plagiarizers.
Wallace: When did you start?
Biden: Around puberty, but I went to confession. I am a Catholic. I can’t say that without pointing out that I oppose abortion with all my heart and soul. Bill Clinton wanted them safe and rare. Barack Obama is heartsick that so many people he knows have had abortions. But we’re all pro-choice and believe in reproductive freedom and oppose the Republicans’ War on Women. Please, Chris, your viewers must know this Administration favors a pluralistic world and respects cultural differences, so it’s wrong for the West and American elitists to judge how women are treated under Sharia. I’m going too long on all this, but I choke up on the President’s legacy of reaching out to the Muslim world. It’s an emotional thing.
Wallace: About the plagiarism, sir. Wasn’t there a pattern? Did you start in college?
Biden: Oh, the alleged plagiarizing. You guys at Fox can’t seem to get your facts straight. It was a paper in law school, not college. I was never caught then. All this was all thoroughly aired in the New York Times back in 1987, your father would have known this, that my plagiarism was not, as I said then, not “malevolent.”
Wallace: How so?
Biden: In that presidential campaign I released a 65-page file from the Syracuse University College of Law that showed poor grades, back in college, also. If I were plagiarizing consistently, my grades would have been better.
Wallace: Donald Trump says he was first in his class at Wharton. So college grades are now a legitimate issue for 2016.
Biden: But I’m not running. Where did you get all this information?
Wallace: Edward Snowden, still upset about Hillary’s support of the National Security Agency, hacked into Hillary’s opposition research files on you and minutes before this interview, he downloaded it on his Facebook page. She apparently thought you were going to run.
Biden: That’s sad. Except for age and gender, our friendship was like Marco and Jeb.
Wallace: Sir, you raised the issue of your dismal academic performance, so I can follow up. In fact, your only “A’s” were in physical education, and you received an “F” in ROTC. In law school, you were 76 out of a class of 85. But the prior year, for your plagiarism, the faculty had recommended dismissal, and you replied in a letter defending your obvious plagiarism, and I quote, sir, “If I had intended to cheat, would I have been so stupid?”
Biden: Well, I was first in my family to go to college.
Wallace: I hate to bring this up, but what about the Finnegans on your mother’s side?
Biden: What’s more important is that I worked at an all-black swimming pool on the east side of Wilmington.
Wallace: I believe we covered that.
Biden: It’s worth repeating. I did not know at the time, but what I did at that swimming pool paved the way for Barack Obama.
Wallace: I apologize. We’re getting far afield. More recently, in the primary campaign in 2008, Hillary said she could respond better than Barack Obama to the 3 a.m. telephone call.
Biden: She sleeps alone.
Wallace: That year, you were running against both of them. About candidate Obama, you said, and I quote, “You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean… I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Biden: People took the word “clean” out of context. My mother had an expression: “clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.” I inherited her originality. When I said clean, I meant he was bright. Like when Trump said about Carly, “face” he meant “persona.”
Wallace: What about Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton — they were African-American candidates for president. Are you saying they were not articulate, bright, and clean?
Biden: Not all three qualities. And Sharpton is none of the above, and we have him at the White House all the time. Look, Chris, this is kicking a dead horse.
Wallace: Did you just think of that expression?
Biden: I did. And Al Gore invented the Internet.
Wallace: Let’s move on. Now, about the Benghazi hearings…
Biden: I agree with Donna Brazile who said about Benghazi: “We got to preven dis from hapinin agen. “
Wallace: Mr. Vice President, really, sir…
Biden: That’s the way Hillary talks in certain places. No one says she’s plagiarizing.
Wallace: And didn’t you say to a black audience in the 2012 presidential election that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”
Biden: It was a campaign. This is America. It’s why we oppose Citizens United from that right-wing Supreme Court. In 2012, I also said the Tea Party “acted like terrorists” and called a donut shop manager in Milwaukee who wanted lower taxes a “smartass.” And I said the number one issue is a three-letter word, J-O-B-S.” I’m proud of who I am.
Wallace: You also said FDR was president when the stock market crashed in 1929.
Biden: What’s four years in our long American history? Chris, you’ve never been a candidate. Remember when I asked that wheelchair-bound politician to “stand up.” It turns me off when people say Donald Trump is authentic. Just because he says “Mexican rapists.” What about me? I am the real deal. Do I get covered live for every gaffe? No, it’s replayed.
Wallace: Can you give me an example of when you deserved more coverage?
Biden: Sure, Chris. I once said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” When Bobby Jindal entered the Republican campaign, my comment should have been covered again, more prominently. I mean, Jindal is not Native American, he’s a real Indian.
Wallace: Well, sir…
Biden: My great grandfather, Raj, was from Punjab, India. My grandmother graduated Rajasthan University.
Wallace: I think those were Bobby Jindal’s parents.
Biden: But what a story. And Bobby and I are both Catholics.
Wallace: Last year, you attacked “Shylocks.”
Biden: Exactly. And yet, some of my best friends are Jewish contributors to the Democratic Party.
Wallace: Let’s clear the air. In the April Atlantic, and we’re talking this year, sir, Jeffrey Goldberg, who channels President Obama to the Jewish community, Mr. Goldberg reported that you told a group of Jewish Americans, “No matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States, there’s only one guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.” Were you saying that American Jews should look to a foreign government to protect them against anti-Semitism here in the United States?”
Biden: That’s just not so. What I was saying is that Israel cannot count on the United States.
Wallace: Thank you for the clarification. I can’t leave this interview without asking you, Mr. Vice President, if Donald Trump were the Republican nominee, who would be better for the Democrats — you or Hillary Clinton?
Biden: There is no question that I would be the better president. But as for the campaign, are Americans ready for a general election in which both major party candidates are ADD? Quite frankly, it could provide an opening for a third party candidate, maybe someone backed by the evil Koch brothers.
Wallace: Is there any chance you will change your mind?
Biden: Plan B is if Hillary is indicted. Then, even if I missed the deadlines for the first couple of primaries, I’ll be there to rescue the party. All bets are off.
Wallace: That’s a neat expression.
Biden: You can take it to the bank, Chris.
Wallace: Vice President Biden, I’ll let you have the final word.
Biden: I knew Mike Wallace. And, Chris, you’re no Mike Wallace.
Wallace: Well, sir, I knew my father.
Biden: Not as well as I did.
Wallace: I beg to differ with you, Mr. Vice President. But you and I can agree that he was one of a kind.
Biden: Big shoes to fill, Chris.