NOW with Alex Wagner | May 31, 2012
>>> is it hard to raise a kid around biden ? i would assume that there's a lot of like joe, language. or, like he's like the uncle that comes over like oh, you brought them guns. like -- all right.
>> no. he's a great vice president and a great friend.
>> that's nice.
>> my kids hang around him.
>> that was the first lady talking about vice president biden earlier this week. a new article in "time" magazine makes the case that biden is not just a great veep and friend to the obama family but the president's secret campaign weapon. neither romney nor obama has this pastoral gene. biden can make both men look like retail amateurs. the rich and the rest. tip o'neill had a saying all politics is local. biden prefers the municipal analog all politics is personal. michael shearer is a white house correspondent and our own ambassador to "time" magazine. always great to see you.
>> good to see you again.
>> a great story, and some incredible turns of phrases, my friend. you know how to put a sentence together. the thing about joe biden , i can talk about the man at length, is what i don't understand in terms of demographics and the campaign trail, is his unfavorables remain high in swing states where that's supposed to be his bread and butter . a " usa today " gallup poll shows his favorable rating is 40% and unfavorable at 54%. what do you think accounts for that?
>> couple things. one, his favorables from the beginning have fallen with the president. people identify him with the president. if you don't like president obama , you don't like joe biden . secondly, i think the fact that he's been out on the trail now for a month and a half, two months, attacking every day, pretty negative politician and that tends to hurt your favorability as well. there's not a lot of exposure to joe biden beyond the sort of late night comedy routines which are basically every night someone is making fun of joe biden because he is so fun to make fun of. that plays a role too. in chicago at the obama campaign they aren't worried. he is a message deliverer and they are looking for him to connect with a very small subset of voters who joe biden i think hilariously calls ethnic voters by which he means catholic whites, jewish whites in the industrial midwest states, and in south florida . and to really talk in this populous old time religion tone which he does quite well and really he's the only thing out there going if you enjoy the theater of political campaigning . neither mitt romney campaign or the president are really offering much up right now.
>> there is nothing i think that compares to joe biden in terms of connectivity. david corn , you spend a fair amount of time at the white house . and michael has done reporting at the rope line with joe biden talking to firefighters. i have been assigned six states biden tells alex trebek . pennsylvania, my home state, ohio, iowa, believe it or not, new hampshire, florida, now talking about assigning me virginia, nevada or north carolina . we started off with michigan but we look like we're in pretty good shape in michigan. i love this idea of joe biden getting his orders and going out dispatched to states.
>> you know that i did this book recently called "showdown."
>> on sale now.
>> what impressed me, well doing this, is the roll that he played in the white house not necessarily in the political sense. this is a guy who is also the white house 's ambassador to the hill, to republicans, he's been instrumental in a lot of the key decisions on tax cut deals t deficit fights, he loves the substance and policy and yet he is also great on the stump. he is an all around player in baseball terms, he'd be an all-star pitching and hitting. and i think he is a tremendous asset regardless of the favorability numbers because he does speak to a certain sense. most importantly i think the president, even with the gaffes trusts him for good advice to do what he has to do. and he also enjoys it. that's the other thing. he enjoys it.
>> the joy is not something you can go to acting school for. michael , you make a point about the whole package, the all or nothing thing. when we talk about the gaffes. you say, you write, everyone knows that biten's greatest strength is his weakness. if you follow up the effusiveness or eliminate the lack of discipline you could lose it is. i'm not changing my brand biden said he told the president when he took the job and he certainly has not, has he, michael .
>> no. it's interesting that stuff you just read there from the conversation with alex trebek . that's all off message. i talked to his own press people. they said you know, he doesn't -- that's not really right he has not been assigned states. they are trying to walk it back to me because they don't want him to say that but it's true. that's how he sees it. that's where they are using him. they want to cast him as an all-purpose player. but he works well in some of these states. i think what david said is right. he's a guy who to understand joe biden has always been a politician who has won whatever room he has been in. that's like bill clinton . not that many politicians like that. so that's how the white house dispatches him. they need to win a room in congress, they need to get a deal done, they send him up. they need to figure out iraq where all of these different, you know, former enemies are fighting. they send joe biden . eight times to iraq to win the room. to convince these guys, look, we can get along, figure it out. they are sending him to pennsylvania, ohio, florida, to do the same.
>> the question now is how many rooms can they get joe biden in before -- can they make a joe biden hologram and get him across the country, potentially overseas. michael , thank you, sir as always. i encourage everybody to read the article. a great read.