Biden handlers keep close tabs on vice president's comments, coverage

Jay Carney on presidential ticket


Vice President Biden's handlers appear to be going to new lengths to keep their boss' antics and open-to-interpretation quips from spiraling out of control in the 24-hour news cycle. 

The close attention to the vice president's style and coverage comes after Biden set off a round of campaign crossfire over his comment that Republicans want to put people "back in chains." Pressed anew on whether President Obama might consider dropping his No. 2 in favor of, say, Hillary Clinton, the White House is standing by the vice president. 

Press Secretary Jay Carney said that decision was made "a long, long time ago" -- which could explain why media coverage of Biden has been so tightly regulated lately, as aides try to prevent an off-the-cuff moment from dominating the day.  

Fox News was told that during the vice president's last campaign swing through Virginia, the one that included the infamous "chains" remark, Biden's office tried to edit pool reports that a small group of journalists put together for the rest of the media. 

On two occasions, Biden's office tried to massage some of the information that was in these reports before they were emailed to a wider group of White House reporters. 

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Democrats who spoke to Fox News tried to downplay the claim and suggest it didn't happen. 

But it tracks with other examples of a cautious approach to publicizing Biden, whose predilection for going off-script with asides, sometimes endearing and sometimes disastrous, is well-known. 

On the White House website, for example, transcripts of Biden's remarks are largely absent. The White House has not posted a Biden speech -- though he's given plenty -- since mid-June. 

The White House also reportedly prohibited reporters from writing about a recent Biden conference call until the call was over. A White House spokesman told Politico last month that the Biden quotes were embargoed until the end of the call to allow "journalists to hear the entirety of the vice president's remarks and get the benefit of having their questions answered -- before trying to condense a 30-minute conference call about a 20-page NEC report into ... 140 characters." 

Biden and the rest of the White House appear to have weathered the latest media and campaign storm over a Biden gaffe. 

The "chains" comments provoked bipartisan concerns that the vice president, appearing before a largely black audience, was employing racial politics on the stump. It fed scathing criticism from both Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan and prompted suggestions from Sarah Palin and others that Biden be dropped from the Democratic ticket. 

But Obama, in an interview, brushed off the suggestion. And Carney said unequivocally Thursday that Biden is on for 2012. 

Asked whether the Obama-Biden ticket will stand, Carney said, "Yes -- and that was settled a long, long time ago."