Biden bets on Obama against Palin
Washington - US Vice-President Joe Biden said on Thursday that President Barack Obama would fare well in a potential 2012 race against Republican Sarah Palin for the White House.
During an interview on CNN's Larry King Live, Biden said he liked Palin personally and thought she had a good chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination.
"Were I a Republican senator or a Republican political leader, I would look and say, 'Wait, she's got a good chance of getting the nomination'," Biden said.
Palin, a former Alaska governor and vice-presidential running mate in 2008 for Republican John McCain, is a popular figure among the Tea Party conservative political movement.
Biden, a Democrat, said he and Palin had a fundamentally different outlook on the world. Asked about a potential Obama/Palin matchup in 2012, Biden said: "I never underestimate anyone. But I think, in that race, it would be a clear, clear choice for the country to make, and I believe President Obama would be in very good shape."
Palin said in an interview released this week with ABC television that she believed she could beat Obama.
Biden shot down speculation that Obama would replace him with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a running mate in the next presidential contest.
"Hillary's made it clear right from the first time I came out, 'Joe, I don't want to be vice-president.' The president's made it clear, 'Joe, I expect you to be on the ticket. I want you on the ticket'. So it was really, kind of, you know, sort of a Washington parlour game," Biden said.
The vice-president also had praise for Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, who will become minority leader when Republicans take over the majority next year after winning the House in November 2 elections.
When interviewer King described Pelosi as someone people either liked or did not like, Biden replied: "I think that's the case with almost all great leaders. People either liked Ronald Reagan or didn't like him. They liked George Bush or didn't. They liked Bill Clinton or didn't."
Biden rejected criticism the Obama administration had not been working hard enough on boosting the economy while advancing healthcare reform. He signalled White House's message in the coming years would have a consistent economic focus.
"For the next two years, all we're about is American competitiveness, American - made in America and American jobs," he said.
Biden reiterated the White House's position it wants to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans but could not support making Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans permanent.
Republicans want tax cuts extended for all income levels. The issue is likely to dominate the congressional agenda in the coming weeks and, more specifically, a meeting between Obama, Biden and Republican leaders scheduled for November 30.
"We're not looking for confrontation," Biden said. "We know if we don't extend the tax cuts for the middle class, not only is it not - is it unfair, but it will have just an incredible drag on the economy."