Obama defends Biden on ‘chains’ remark

President Barack Obama, breaking his public silence Wednesday on Vice President Joe Biden's claim that a Mitt Romney victory will "put y'all back in chains," dismissed the controversy over the comment and expressed full confidence in Biden.

In interviews with People magazine and "Entertainment Tonight," Obama sought to put Biden's remark, which drew angry denunciations from Republicans, in context and said voters aren't focused on the stir it created.

"Most folks know that's just sort of a WWF wrestling part of politics," Obama told "Entertainment Tonight." "It doesn't mean anything, just fills up a lot of airtime."

When asked by People magazine whether he would talk to Biden in the aftermath of that remark, the president offered the verbal equivalent of a shrug.

"Joe Biden has been an outstanding vice president. He is passionate about what's happening in middle-class families," he said. "So I will be talking to him a whole lot about the campaign generally."

Biden meant that "you, consumers, the American people, will be a lot worse off if we repeal these [Wall Street reform] laws as the other side is suggesting," Obama told People. "In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that."

To "Entertainment Tonight," he characterized Biden's phrasing as a "distraction" from a substantive issue, adding that "we should focus on what Joe's comments meant and what they're intended to mean, and that is, we shouldn't roll back Wall Street reforms that are making consumers and the economy a lot more secure."

Biden's comments came on Tuesday at a campaign stop in Danville, Va., where he told a group of supporters that Romney would "unchain Wall Street" by rolling back regulations.

"He said in the first hundred days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street," Biden said during a speech at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. "They're going to put y'all back in chains."