Joe Biden, who will be sworn into office on Sunday morning, is becoming one of the most influential vice presidents in US history according to historians and political observers.
“Sometimes he can get a little, I don’t know, goofy,” said Larry Rasky, a longtime Biden confidant and campaign strategist. “For everybody who knows him, that’s Joe. That’s who he is. . . . But when it comes time to step up his game and be a leader and a statesman, he
has always done it.”
According to an article in Boston.com, Biden is a joker whose mouth often gets him in trouble but whose gregarious nature gives him the ability to connect.
“To some extent I think Biden’s spontaneity is turning out to be something of an advantage in the sense that he’s old school in the best way,” said Joel K. Goldstein, a professor in St. Louis and an authority on the vice presidency. “You have a sense that he’s not scripted and what you see is what you get.”
The former US senator was initially reluctant about being Obama's vice president. When Obama and Biden began working out some the terms, the vice president made it clear he wanted to be involved in all major decisions the president made.
“The vice presidency is not something you ever aspire to . . . it’s not something he ever sought by any sense,” said Biden’s son, Beau, who is the attorney general of Delaware. “But when you’re asked to serve by your president, that’s what you do.”
Many historians believe the only one who can be said to rival Biden's influence as vice president is Dick Cheney.
“Biden is certainly one of the very most powerful vice presidents we’ve ever had,” Goldstein said. “Time and again, Obama seems to involve him as a troubleshooter on the most consequential matters that are facing the administration.”
While recently, President Obama tapped the vice president to shape the gun-control proposals, the two men have not always agreed on certain policies.
For example, Biden disagreed with Obama over the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan. He also advised Obama against authorizing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
While the 70-year-old Biden seems an unlikely presidential candidate for 2016 -- he would be the oldest new president in history by five years-- it is nonetheless a frequent topic of conversation.
“Everybody says ‘I want elected officials to say what they think,’ ” said Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden aide who was appointed to his US Senate seat when Biden became vice president. “You know why he’s so popular now? They got a politician who says what he thinks. And they like it.”