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Biden on gay marriage: ‘Absolutely comfortable with men marrying men, women marrying women’

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
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Biden (Steve Helber/AP)

Vice President Joe Biden is not convinced the economic recovery has flatlined, doesn't think Mitt Romney has a jobs plan and is "absolutely comfortable" with gay marriage.

During a wide-ranging interview with David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Biden weighed in on a wide array of topics—the economy, foreign policy, gay marriage, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, Mitt Romney and Osama bin Laden—six months ahead of the general election.

While Biden wouldn't say if the Obama administration would support gay-marriage legislation in a second term, he expressed his personal views on the topic:

DAVID GREGORY: And you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I— I— look, I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction—beyond that.

DAVID GREGORY: In a second term, will this administration come out behind same-sex marriage, the institution of marriage?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I— I— I can't speak to that. I— I— I— I don't know the answer to that.

A spokesman for Biden said in a statement to Yahoo News that the comments were in line with the administration's stance on gay marriage:

"The vice president was saying what the president has said previously—that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to roll back those rights. That's why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the vice president was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country."

On Twitter, Obama strategist David Axelrod echoed that sentiment.

"What VP said—that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights—is precisely POTUS's position," Axelrod tweeted.

Earlier in the interview, Biden said it's "not a concern" that job growth appears to have stagnated because "there is no stagnation."

"There were 4 million jobs lost in the six months or so before we came to office," Biden said. "Before I lowered my right hand on Jan. 20 [2009], we lost 700,000 jobs that month. And before we got out first major economic initiative passed, we lost another 3.5 million jobs. Since that point, it's been steady growth, not enough. There's still a lot of people in trouble. But there's no stagnation.

"I come from a household where whenever there was a massive recession, somebody around that table was gonna lose their job," Biden continued. "Here's the deal. What is Romney proposing? He's proposing, as to quote Bill Clinton, 'going back to the last policy of the last administration on steroids.' I mean, what is [Romney] talking about? He talks about another $2 trillion in tax cuts for the very wealthy. Is that how he's gonna do it? Is he gonna create jobs by continuing to undercut getting people to college and helping them get there by undercutting education? Is he gonna continue to create jobs by eliminating investments in research and development? I mean, what, what's the plan? We've seen this movie before."

Biden also conceded that his public criticism of Romney regarding Osama bin Laden was hypocritical.

DAVID GREGORY: You questioned Romney's bona fides on foreign policy in a wide area. But in this particular area, you said, "Bin Laden is dead, GM is alive. Could you say that slogan in reverse for Gov. Romney?" And it's striking, Mr. Vice President, given that at the H-hour of D-day for this operation, you told this president, "Don't do it. Don't do it now," is what you said. And yet you're saying Gov. Romney should be questioned? When that was your judgment at the time?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: That—that's a valid point. I don't know what Governor—I didn't say he wouldn't.

But Biden hinted the country would be less safe in a Romney presidency. "Based on what [he] has said, for example, him saying our archenemy, I'm paraphrasing, is Russia. Oh, he called it the Soviets. If that's his prism through which he views our national security interest, I would say it would not be as strong."

He addressed bin Laden's apparent criticism of his ability to step in as president in a letter—released last week—in which the terror leader concluded "Biden is totally unprepared for that post."

"Osama bin Laden's been wrong about a lot of things," he said on Sunday. "I hope he was wrong about that."

Biden added that he wasn't sure if he'd be interested in running in 2016, with or without Hillary Clinton. But he's locked into the 2012 ticket.

"There's no way out," he said. "I mean, they've already printed Obama-Biden."


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