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« Obama Meets The "Buzz Saw" | Blog Home Page | The Week Ahead: State Of The Presidency »

Biden's Office Disputes Report On Son's Campaign

The Wilmington News Journal seemed to have quite a scoop in today's paper: Vice President Biden, unprompted, saying that his son was reluctant to run for the Senate seat he once held. Here's how columnist Harry Themal reported the news:

Our conversation ended with a surprising request from the vice president as he hurried off to a national security meeting. Spontaneously, he turned to the possible Delaware senatorial campaign of his son Beau.

Biden: "If you run into Beau, talk him into running; he respects you."

Me: "I don't think he wants to run, though."

Biden: "I don't think he does either. I know he doesn't want to. ... I'm so proud of the job he's done [as attorney general]."

Me: "Would you campaign for him [against Republican Mike Castle]?"

Biden: "Hell, yes. I told him I'd give him my sixth-born grandchild."

I doubt Beau Biden "respects" me, but it was quite startling to hear the vice president confirm what many Democrats fear -- that Beau does not want to be the candidate.

The appointment of Ted Kaufman in 2008 had seemingly paved the way for the younger Biden, Delaware's attorney general, to run for the seat after a tour in Iraq with the National Guard. But he has made no overt moves since returning last summer, fueling the concerns Themal alludes to.

Here's the catch: a transcript of this exchange as provided by Biden's office seems to make it clear that Biden was not referring to his son at all, but instead Kaufman.

BIDEN TO THEMAL: "Always a pleasure of seeing you buddy. Talk Ted into running, if Beau doesn't. Talk him into running - he respects you. I wish I had the power of appointing Senators. I'd appoint him from Maryland if he wouldn't do Delaware."

THEMAL: "I don't think he wants to run, though."

BIDEN: "No I don't think he does either. I know he doesn't. I'm so proud of the job he's done. God."

THEMAL: "Would you campaign for him?"

BIDEN: "Oh hell yeah, man. I tell you what - I was joking if Beau didn't run - I told him I'd give him my 6th-born grandchild. And you know, he said 'I have enough of those.' Alright, buddy, thanks."

It seems odd that Biden would even make the suggestion about Kaufman running in Beau's place unless he had doubts about his son's intentions. But if he is sincere in saying later he was joking about that scenario, then it would seem we're still on track for a tough race between the son of the VP and Rep. Mike Castle.

The vice president's office says it is seeking a clarification from the News Journal.