US Vice President Joe Biden steps up flirtation with White House bid

 US Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale at The George Washington University in Washington on Tuesday.
US Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event honoring former Vice President Walter Mondale at The George Washington University in Washington on Tuesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Vice President Joe Biden touted his intimacy with the Oval Office and rival world leaders on Tuesday, as he stepped up his flirtation with a 2016 White House bid.

For the second consecutive day, Biden intimated he may challenge Clinton, a former secretary of state and strong frontrunner, for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sounding every bit a candidate, Biden boasted about the countless hours he has spent huddled with Obama in candid deliberation.

He also wondered out loud about the relative importance of the vice presidency versus cabinet posts, like the one Clinton once held and has presented as evidence of her qualifications to run White House.

"I spend between, depending on the season, four to seven hours a day, every single day with the president," Biden said.

"I attend every meeting the president has, at his request." "I will get sent to go speak to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or go speak to (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan," he added.

"We've had two great secretaries of state, but when I go, they know that I am speaking for the president."

Drawing further contrast between the vice presidency and cabinet posts, Biden noted that he had presided over 18 cabinet meetings.

"I remember the first cabinet meeting," Biden said. "One cabinet member said, 'I don't think that is such a good idea, Mr Vice President.' And I said, 'Why don't you do what I tell you, or go talk to the president.'"

The 72-year-old former senator also appeared to tacitly criticise Clinton's boast in a recent Democratic debate that she had made enemies with Republicans.

"I don't think my chief enemy is the Republican Party. This is a matter of making things work," he said.

In the carefully scripted world of Washington politics, his remarks are likely to be seen as a veritable declaration of war by the Clinton camp.

Biden also weighed in on the tenor of current politics, saying he followed the rule that it was appropriate to challenge an opponent's judgment, but never their motive.

"Today," he said, "it's all about motive up there, it's not about judgment. 'You're a bad person, you really are not a good God-fearing man.'"

"You can't get to 'yes' after I tell you 'I think you are dishonest, or you are in the pocket of the industry.' That's wrong."