For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
January 11, 2009
Interview of the Vice President by Wolf Blitzer, Late Edition
Vice President's Ceremonial Office
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
January 9, 2009
11:12 A.M. EST
Q Mr. Vice President, thanks very much for joining us.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's good to see you again, Wolf.
Q Thank you. Let's talk a little bit about the economy right now, because it's -- in the words of Barack Obama -- dire right now. And the economic numbers, the jobs lost -- just reported as we speak right now, 524,000 lost in December, 2.6 million jobs lost last year alone. Since you took office eight years ago, 5.1 million jobs lost. What's going on?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we're in the middle of a recession, obviously, that started in a major way last year, coupled with the crisis in the financial sector that -- I think those two things interacting together produced significant job losses. I mean, the numbers that were released this week show an unemployment rate now of 7.2 percent. And that's -- obviously it's a very, very serious problem that is going to be one of the first items that the new administration has to deal with.
Q And it looks like we could get a whole lot worse unless something dramatic happens.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't want to -- I'm not an economist, and I don't want to predict that. But clearly we're in the middle of a serious recession. And we've worked hard on the financial problem, which was the first one that hit last summer. The President put together a program, the so-called TARP program, and I think we've had significant positive impact in terms of being able to guarantee liquidity of the financial system, adequate capital in the banking system and so forth, and that's crucial.
Q And in that TARP program, that $700 billion program, you spent half of it, about half of it so far, $350 billion.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, we've committed about half of it. Not all of that's been spent.
Q Oh, you've committed. But has it delivered what you really wanted?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think it has. We've seen interest rates decline. We've seen a pick-up in the ability, for example, of companies to get short-term borrowing to finance their business operations. The interbank lending rate is significantly below what it was back when we had the crisis. So I think we've had a positive impact. I don't think we're --
Q I know a lot of your -- a lot of Republicans on the Hill, they don't like it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, that's true. But I --
Q You have no regrets?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. Well, regrets -- you'd rather there hadn't been a financial crisis. But it's a worldwide crisis, it's not one that affects only the United States.
And I think it's important, too -- I'm a conservative, Wolf, and one of the first things I did when I got elected to Congress in '79 was testify against the Chrysler bailout. So I've got concerns about how deeply involved the government gets in the private sector.
But financing is different, the financial system is different. That is a federal responsibility, with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury -- the producer and keeper of the value of our currency and all the regulation that's involved -- the SEC and so forth. When the financial system is threatened, only the federal government can fix it, and that's what we've been doing.
Q So you say you had no choice, basically?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. So even though I'm a conservative, I feel very strongly that we did the right thing by getting actively involved when we did.
Q As a conservative, someone who wants to see the federal government smaller, more constraint, how painful is it for you to see this federal deficit explode the way it has? When you took office eight years ago, you inherited a $100-billion or $200-billion budget surplus. Now it's projected for the coming year to be a $1.2 trillion deficit. And the national debt has gone, what, from $5 trillion to about $11 trillion? That must be really painful for a conservative who wants a smaller government.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I would rather see a smaller government. But we've always said, and I firmly believe, that you do make exceptions for budget restraint. And those exceptions are wars, for example, national crises. We've had to prosecute the global war on terror. We had to recover from 9/11. We had to make major investments in homeland security. We had to pay for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then more recently, obviously, to deal with the financial crisis and the financial sector. So there have been reasons why we've had to commit those funds and run up the deficit. I'd rather it hadn't been necessary, but I do think it was necessary, given the problems we're faced with.
Q What would you have done differently, looking back -- obviously, we're all smarter with hindsight -- on this economic issue?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think I am a big believer in tax policy. And I think we've -- if you look back at what we were able to do in the aftermath of 9/11; when we lost a million jobs in a matter of weeks there, we were able to cut taxes for everybody in the country who paid income taxes, and to reduce the rate on cap gains and on dividends. And that put in place policies that supported 52 months of consistent, continuing job creation. That was good policy in a good, sound, solid economy.
I think what's happened since -- we ran into problems, for example, with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two federally-supported financial institutions that a great many banks around the world had invested in, that we tried to reform. We offered legislation up some years ago to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, because there was a concern about a financial crisis, and we couldn't get it through the Congress. I wish that legislation had been adopted then.
Q Because Robert Shiller, who is a Yale economist, he's one of the few that predicted this housing bubble out there, and he says this -- in the new issue of Vanity Fair, he says, "The Bush strategists were aware of the public enthusiasm for housing, and they dealt with it brilliantly in the 2004 election by making the theme of the campaign the 'ownership society'."
I guess the question is: Was the Bush administration complicit in this, in these low mortgages, people who couldn't afford these mortgages, and this housing bubble that developed?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think like all administrations in recent memory in both political parties, we've been strongly supportive of the notion of home ownership for as many people as possible. That wasn't new on our watch, but it is something we believed in.
Q Did you go to far in allowing this unregulated industry to explode the way it did?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I -- as I say, I wish that legislation we recommended that would have repaired the situation or imposed significant reforms had been adopted some years ago. It wasn't because we couldn't get it through the Congress.
So the -- I can remember talking to Alan Greenspan, for example, when he was still Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Alan expressed concern about the potential for systemic crisis because of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the way they were structured and relatively unregulated. Those are the issues we tried to deal with, and we were unsuccessful.
Q Was that the biggest mistake, that there was no regulation?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, in terms of coming up with a problem you can point to that was governmental in origin, that's the one I'm most inclined to point to. But I'm not an economist. I'm not an expert. I think the jury is still out in terms of the studies that need to be done and will be done over exactly what happened and why it happened so that we can avoid it in the future.
Q As you know, the President-elect, Barack Obama, is thinking of a $775 billion economic recovery or stimulus package himself right now. Do you think that's a good idea?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it. So it's a little hard to judge without knowing exactly what's going to be in it.
Q In principle?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we do need to do everything we can to address the downturn in the economy. There are really two separate problems here, although they're obviously related; one is the financial sector, where I do think there's a major role for the federal government to play. The other is with respect to the recession, and the overall performance of the economy. And there, historically, there have been differences in terms of how we approach it. I think Democrats traditionally want to spend more money -- public works projects, et cetera. We Republicans more often want to pursue tax policy as the best alternative to promote growth and to turn around an economic downturn.
Now, again, in fairness to the President-elect, I haven't seen his proposal yet, so I can't really judge it. But if I had to make a choice myself, I'd say we ought to be looking at tax policy as our first priority.
Q Well, he says maybe half of his recovery plan, or stimulus plan, would involve tax cuts for the middle class.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right, but what about the total economy? What about business? What about those sectors of the economy that create the jobs that everybody depends on? Those are key pieces of the equation.
Q Is this the worst economic crisis the United States has faced since the Great Depression?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can't say that. I don't think we know that yet. And I think certainly if you look at some earlier periods in our history -- I remember back in the late '70s, when we had a high rate of inflation, stagflation, in effect, and high rate of unemployment. I can remember when I was in Congress and you were covering me on the Hill, we had homebuilders, for example, mail in 2-by-4s. They chopped up 2-by-4s in 18-inch lengths and put postage on them and mailed them in to protest what was going on in the housing industry.
So we've had some difficult times. Is this the worst since World War II? I can't say that. I don't believe the data shows that yet. But it is clearly a serious recession.
Q I remember those days. My dad was a homebuilder in Buffalo, New York, in the late '70s.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Probably sending me 2-by-4s.
Q And interest rates were 15, 18, 20 percent. And we thought it was all over. We survived that, but it was a rough patch. You're right, it was a rough patch.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was.
Q You're not ready to say this is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Let's move on to foreign policy a little bit. Gaza right now, it's a mess as all of us know. Hamas was, correct me if I'm wrong, democratically elected by the Palestinians. And the U.S. supported those elections and certified that they were fair. So the question is this: Should the U.S. be dealing with the Hamas element of the Palestinian society?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't believe so, because Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization, and is.
Q So why did you let them participate in the elections?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, remember what transpired here. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza -- took out all of their troops, moved out the settlers who had settled there, then turned it all back to the Palestinians. At that point the Palestinian Authority was nominally in control. Of course, Hamas came in and, in effect, first won an election, but then kicked all the others out. And then, instead of building Gaza, creating the genesis for a Palestinian state, they turned it into a launching pad for terrorist attacks, and in the next three years launched 7,000 rockets at Israel.
And Israel finally reached the point where they felt they had no choice but to go in and go after Hamas and take down that threat that they perceived to their country. And we have always defended Israel's right to defend themselves against terrorist attacks. So it's what Hamas did once they got into office obviously that's created the current crisis.
Q So is there any prospect of a cease-fire from the U.S. perspective, a truce? What do you say? Because the U.N. Security Council did pass a resolution with the U.S. abstaining.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right, they did pass a resolution. I think we've learned from watching over the years, that there's a big difference between what happens at the United Nations in their debates, and the facts on the ground in major crises around the world.
This is a situation where I think there's not likely to be a cessation of hostility, if you will, until we see Hamas agree to end their terrorist activities, their rocket launches, for example, against Israel; until we come up with a durable, sustainable cease-fire; find a way, for example, to limit the resupply of Hamas by their main supporters, Syria and Iran. So a lot needs to be done here.
The real tragedy as I look at it, Wolf, is what's happening to the Palestinian people. They are innocent bystanders. This is not a struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a struggle where Israel is trying to defend itself against what's been designated by many people as a terrorist organization.
Q Let's talk about Afghanistan right now. Senator Bob Graham, former senator from Florida, former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, he says this right now, and I want to get your reaction: "The Taliban and al Qaeda have relocated, have strengthened, have become a more nimble and a much more international organization. The threat is greater today than it was on September 11th." Is the threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda greater today than it was on September 11th?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I'd make a distinction between those two organizations. I don't think lumping them together lets you reach the right conclusion on what's happened. We've had a major impact on al Qaeda. We have captured and killed a good portion of the senior leadership. They are under the gun on a consistent basis. There's a story in The Washington Post this morning that makes reference to the operations that have succeeded to some extent in terms of going after al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda, I believe for the most part, has been driven out of Afghanistan. What they have done now is found a safe haven, a refuge if they will -- if you will, in Pakistan.
The Taliban is very much focused on the situation in Afghanistan. They operate back and forth across the border from Pakistan. I don't believe that they're any stronger than they were on 9/11, but they're still actively involved. Now, we've made progress in Afghanistan. We overthrew the original Taliban government that was there that had sheltered Osama bin Laden. We've had a constitution written. We've had national elections. We've got a good start on building up the Afghan National Army. So I think we've made significant progress. But we're going to be there for a long time. This is a --
Q Why haven't you been able to capture or kill bin Laden, or Ayman Zawahiri, the number two al Qaeda leader?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we've got a few days left yet, Wolf.
Q Something happening we should know about?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, no. I can't predict that, obviously. We would like very much to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. But my guess is at this point he's operating in an area that's very difficult, very hard to get to; that he's not an effective leader at this stage, he can't really engage with his organization without coming out of whatever hole he's hiding in. And the key thing for us, even if we got bin Laden tomorrow, is to take down his organization. And that's what we've been actively doing.
Q How frustrating is this to you personally that he's still at large?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Obviously, I would like to solve that problem. But a much bigger problem, a much more important problem is keeping the country safe. And we've done that now for seven and a half years. The fact that we were able, through our Terror Surveillance Program, interrogation program of high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, all of those steps we took in the aftermath of 9/11, has had I think a remarkable impact in that there has not been another mass casualty attack on the United States since 9/11. That's a great achievement, and I think that's more important than getting any one individual man, although obviously, I'd like very much to get Osama bin Laden. I'm sure the hunt will go on after we leave.
Q Let's go through some of the criticisms that have been leveled against you and the administration. The presidential daily briefing memo that the President received on August 6, 2001 -- that's before 9/11 -- it showed that bin Laden was determined to strike in the United States. The question -- the criticism has been: What did you do between August 6th and September 11th to try to stop bin Laden and al Qaeda?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there were a series of policies put in place before August 6th. But the information that came in, in that memo on August 6th --
Q You saw that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, I see the PDB every day. And it's been the subject of a lot of debate since, but it didn't provide you with any actionable intelligence. It didn't talk anything about timing. It didn't say anything about targets or where they might try to strike. None of that information was available. But we could --
Q But the 9/11 Commission did say there was -- the FBI knew things about pilots flying, wanting to land but not take off.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there were things that had occurred that were the result of problems that were built into the intelligence community that we inherited that we've tried to address since then. There was, for example, two of the highjackers in California that one of the agencies, I think the CIA knew about, but the FBI didn't know about. There was no communication, or effective communication between those two bureaus. That's one of the issues that we've addressed since.
So there's no question there were things that needed to be done in order to prevent that kind of an attack. But to say that the August 6th PDB gave us something we should have acted upon, that's simply not the case. There was not sufficient information there to take any action that would have prevented 9/11.
Q At that time, your Chief White House Counterterrorism Advisor, Richard Clarke, who became a major critic of the administration after he left the government -- he said on that night of 9/11, there was a meeting with then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was there. And then he says this -- he says: "And I made the point certainly that night, and I think Powell acknowledged it, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. That didn't seem to phase Rumsfeld in the least."
Was there an immediate sort of knee-jerk reaction after 9/11, you know what, Saddam Hussein has got to go?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the question on Saddam Hussein I think can be, and should be, considered separate and apart from 9/11. But if you're talking about whether or not there was any information connecting Iraq to 9/11, initially there was. The CIA produced the first report that came in, oh, a week after 9/11 that said, in fact, Mohamed Atta had been in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and met with a senior official of the Iraqi Intelligence Service at that time.
Q And that proved to be false?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It proved to be false, but the agency didn't put out a report saying it was false, that is, was officially declared false, for several years. And, in fact, as late as a year later, after 9/11, they were still credibly reporting, or assigning credibility to the report that Mohamed Atta had been in Prague on that date.
So we were getting information that turned out not to be true. But it certainly was available at the time. They gave us pictures at one time, photographs that can from the agency, of Mohamed Atta, allegedly taken in Prague, and said there's a 70 to 80 percent chance this is Mohamed Atta.
Q But when you launched the war against Saddam Hussein, did you know then that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We did not base going after Saddam Hussein on any connection with 9/11. There was a history of a relationship with terror. He'd been a prime state sponsor of terrorists, designated by the State Department. He was paying suicide bombers, $25,000 to their families, to attack Israel. He provided a safe haven and sanctuary for Abu Nidal.
George Tenet, who was the Director of the CIA, had been before the Congress of the United States saying there was a relationship -- a relationship. He didn't say that they were responsible for 9/11, but said there was a relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq that went back 10 years. That's the information we had.
So the question of whether or not we went in, for example, because there was some connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, that was not our motive. What we were concerned about was that Saddam Hussein was one of the worst actors in that part of the world, that he'd started two wars, that he produced and used weapons of mass destruction, that he was a sponsor of terror, that he had provided sanctuary and safe harbor for terror. And we thought he constituted a significant threat not only to the governments in the region, but also to us. And based on that, the President made the decision he did. And frankly, I think the world and the United States are better off today, and Iraq, because Saddam is gone.
Q And the charge that you "cherry-picked" the intelligence to make the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, a charge amplified in that famous Downing Street memo -- you're familiar with that British memo -- that Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of British intelligence came to Washington, returned to London, briefed the British government, and wrote in this memo on July 23, 2002 -- this was before the war -- he said: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's not true. And I haven't seen the Breedlove [sic] memo, but I do know that the Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, conducted an exhaustive review of all of the material, especially in connection with the NIE that was done on weapons of mass destruction; the Robb-Silberman Commission did. Everybody came to the same conclusion that there was no manipulation of the process, or pressure brought to bear on the analyst who prepared those reports, to in any way change, or shape, or affect what they reported.
Every single person who was asked in that process -- both those commissions, run by Americans -- Democrat and Republican alike, said that the administration had not attempted to shape or alter their reporting.
Q How much of the information, including that sensitive issue of those mobile biological warfare labs that Colin Powell spoke about at the United Nations Security Council, was the result of information -- or disinformation -- from that guy known as "Curveball," an Iraqi who the Germans had access to who was saying all sorts of things which turned out to be baloney?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: What's the question?
Q The question on Curveball. How much were you relying on his information?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was --
Q I'll read to you what the German Foreign Minister at the time, Vice Chancellor Joshchka Fischer, says -- he says: "I was astonished that the Americans used Curveball, really astonished. This was our stuff, but they presented it in a way we knew it not to be true. They presented it as a fact, and not as a way of intelligence assessment is: 'It could, or could not be, we don't know.'"
In other words, he was couching it, but he says the U.S. took it as hard fact, what Curveball was saying.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: From our perspective, we were not involved in dealing with Curveball, or dealing with the Germans on this matter. That's the kind of intelligence that would be fed into the intelligence community. And our intelligence community would deal with that. That is it wasn't for the policy types to say, well, here's the reporting from Curveball. I'd never heard of Curveball until after the NIE had turned sour sometime later.
I do know -- for example, I recall very clearly that in March of '03, after we already had troops in Iraq, as we're on the way to Baghdad, we got reporting from our intelligence community that said be careful of the WMD; that when you get close to Baghdad, there is every reason to believe Saddam Hussein will use weapons of mass destruction, i.e. chemicals or biological agents against our forces.
So as late as March of '03, when we're already in there, the intelligence community is still providing us with intelligence, and the commanders in the field, in effect, saying, Saddam has WMD. That turned out he didn't have it. It turned out that he had the capacity to produce it, that he had in the past, probably would have in the future once the sanction were lifted, but he did not have stockpiles. He did not have active programs at the time. The NIE was just wrong. But it happens from time to time, but there wasn't anything the administration did to create that inaccuracy on the part of the intelligence.
We did the best we could with what we had. But I still think, and would argue aggressively, that even knowing what we know now about that NIE, we did the right thing when we went in and got rid of Saddam Hussein.
Q We're out of time. A quick couple of questions and then I'll let you go. Waterboarding -- it was used how many times?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was used on three different individuals.
Q And the information you believe that was received was valid?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do.
Q You stopped using it after what, 2003?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There has not been an occasion since.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There has not been an occasion since.
Q Since there's no need?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm just going to leave it that way. When we get into talking about the application of specific techniques to prisoners, then we get into the business of signaling to our adversaries what we might or might not do, and they can train for it. It has been publicly acknowledged that we did use waterboarding, that we did use it on three different individuals. I believe it was Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, and Abu Zubaydah, and one other, I think al Nashiri. Those three individuals were subjected to waterboarding during the course of their interrogation. But that's it.
Q I've always been perplexed. If it's so good and so useful, there are bad guys out there right now, why not continue to use it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you don't use it on somebody because he's a bad guy. What we were attempting to do, and what we did, was to persuade these individuals who had a lot of intelligence and information about al Qaeda -- remember, we captured Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in, I think it was spring -- March of '03 in Karachi. At the time we didn't know a lot about al Qaeda. On 9/11 we didn't know a lot about al Qaeda. If Dick Clarke was such an expert, how come he didn't have all this information about al Qaeda when he was running the counterterrorism program?
The fact of the matter is that we were able to persuade them to cooperate, to give us the intelligence we needed, and to give us the base of understanding about al Qaeda, about personnel and operations and financing and geography, and so forth, that was essential in terms of defending our country against further attacks.
Now, you don't go in and pull out somebody's toenails, in order to get them to talk. This is not torture. We don't do torture.
Q John McCain says it's torture.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, John is wrong. He and I have a fundamental disagreement on this point. But what the agency did was they sought formal guidance from the senior leadership of the administration, as well as the Justice Department, in terms of what was appropriate and what wasn't. And they got that guidance. And they followed that guidance, as far as I know. I have no reason to believe anybody out at the agency violated any tenet of the obligations and responsibilities we have in terms of statutes or our treaty obligations. I think it was done very professionally. I think it was done very few times, when it necessary. I think it produced good results. I think there are Americans alive today because we used that technique on those three individuals.
Q And if necessary, would you authorize it again?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm not in the chain of command. But if necessary, I would certainly recommend it again.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Let's end it on a different note. You've been in government for a long time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, come on now, don't make it sound that long.
Q Well, I've been covering you for a long time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Forty years.
Q Yes. What was the best job you ever had in government?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've loved being Vice President, obviously, in this particular time. But I look back on my experiences -- I also enjoyed very much being Secretary of Defense, especially during Desert Storm; having the opportunity to work that closely with our men and women in uniform, and in charge of some 4 million people.
And the other thing -- the other period, well, two other periods that had their own special appeal: One was 10 years in the Congress representing Wyoming; and the other was signing on with Jerry Ford when he took over the presidency under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and serving as his Chief of Staff.
Those have all been highlights, if you will. They're all very different. I hate to rank one over another, but I've been I think extraordinarily fortunate to be able to serve in those positions in those periods.
Q What's next?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't have any immediate plans. I'm giving some thought to writing a book. I haven't made any commitments yet at this point. I will spend more time with the family. We'll split our time between Wyoming, our home in Wyoming and here in Washington. We'll continue to have interests here; our kids and grandkids all live here.
So I look forward to the future. I've been through these transitions out about four times now, and there are always good things down the road that will occupy my time and interest.
Q Do you have one piece of advice for Joe Biden?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The most important thing that any Vice President needs to know is to understand what it is the President he works for wants him to do. That really will determine everything in terms of the kind of meetings he attends, the policy issues he gets involved in, the kind of assistance or advice he's asked for by the President and others. It's a very different kind of a job from being an executive running a big organization, or being a senator. You really are there in a sort of a combination staff capacity, a sometime-surrogate for the President, active in doing all those things a Vice President does -- fundraising, et cetera.
But to the degree of influence you have, whether or not it's a consequential vice presidency, if you will, is going to depend almost solely upon the President and what he wants.
Q And finally, as you leave office, are you encouraged or worried about the Obama administration?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Obviously, I didn't vote for Barack Obama. I voted for John McCain. I'm a Republican, a conservative; he's a liberal Democrat. On the other hand, I have the same feeling that I think many Americans have, that it's really remarkable that what we're going to do here in a few days is swear in the first African American President of the United States.
When I came to town in 1968, we'd had the Martin Luther assassination, Bobby Kennedy assassination, riots in the cities, major, major disturbances, a lot of it racially motivated around the country. And, in fact, things have changed so dramatically, that we're now about to swear in Barack Obama as President of the United States. That's really a remarkable story, and I think a record of tremendous success and progress for the United States.
Q Pretty historic. Pretty exciting.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It is.
Q Mr. Vice President, thanks very much.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Wolf.
END 11:44 A.M. EST