President Obama can win a second term even if the economic recovery fails to gather steam, Vice President Joe Biden said Monday.
In an interview aboard Air Force Two as he continued a nine-day tour of Asia, the vice president based his conviction in part on the belief that voters understand the Democratic administration “inherited a God-awful circumstance that wasn’t our responsibility.
”That doesn't in any way diminish the genuine suffering of a hell of a lot of Americans. But I think everything gets down to a choice," he said.
Biden made a similar point as he campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2010 election, even reprising a favorite quotation that he used often last fall: "Don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative."
But it is precisely the consequence of that Republican triumph that leads Biden to believe that voters are more attuned to the choice before them.
"I don't think people are ready to say, ‘Okay, I'm unhappy with the direction now, I'm just switching. … They got a piece of that when they voted in '10. And they didn't like what they got just switching," he said. "I think there's going to be a lot more engagement in this campaign about, 'Okay, who's offering what? What is the vision here?' "
The divided government that resulted from Republican victories last fall has led to near-total gridlock in Washington this year: a narrowly-averted government shutdown, a prolonged fight over the debt ceiling and a downgrade of U.S. Treasury bonds by Standard & Poor's.
In the wide-ranging interview, the vice president said he thinks there is a chance members of the so-called "Super Committee" can come to an agreement on a new deficit reduction plan as called for in the final debt-ceiling accord, but that it would be "very, very difficult."
"We still may end up with the trigger being pulled," he said. "But there's a shot. A shot of getting a deal that would be viewed by Wall Street, would be viewed the international community as a significant alteration of the trajectory of long-term debt."
Biden spoke with reporters traveling on the three-nation tour. After a stop in Mongolia, he arrived in Japan Monday night, where he will offer support for the nation's ally months after it was battered by the earthquake, tsunami andnuclear crisis.