Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday pushed back against the narrative—notably pushed by Hillary Clinton—that he opposed the raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Biden said that while he counseled caution in a cabinet meeting leading up to the raid, he expressed his true feelings to the president in private.
"As we walked out of the room and up the stairs I told him to go but to follow his own instincts," Biden said at a public policy event at George Washington University.
Biden said he toned down his support for the raid in public so he would not undercut the president’s decision.
"Imagine if I had said in front of everyone ‘don’t go’ or ‘go,’ and his decision was a different decision. It undercuts that relationship. So I never, on a difficult issue, never say what I think finally until I go up into the Oval with him alone," Biden said.
Biden’s story takes on a new significance in light of his potential challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. His perceived hesitance to support the raid could be turned into a valuable attack line by the Clinton messaging machine should he enter the Democratic race.
Clinton has contrasted her support for the Bin Laden raid with the reluctance of other cabinet members. Clinton said at last week’s Democratic debate that she was one of only a few advisors who the president relied on to make the decision to raid Bin Laden.
Biden offered his own take on this aspect of the story, claiming that he was one of the earliest members of the administration to know about Bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan, while unnamed "major players in the cabinet" were not informed until the following year.