Joe Biden to ABC's Robin Roberts: I'm Humbled by Cheering, Spontaneous Crowds

"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts didn't bother to challenge Vice President Joe Biden when he asserted on Thursday that cheering crowds spontaneously appear wherever he goes. Paraphrasing a softball question given to Barack Obama at his Wednesday news conference, Roberts asked what had humbled the Vice President during his first 100 days in office. [Audio available here]

In a serious tone, Biden responded, "...Everywhere I go, crowds spontaneously assemble. They start to cheer, whether I go to a play on Broadway or I'm going home to Wilmington, Delaware. I walk on the train. People stand up and clap." Roberts didn't offer a follow-up, but she could have referenced a January 3 incident, when (then) Vice President-elect Biden went unnoticed while trying to see a movie in Delaware. According to a reprinted Deleware Online article, "Remarkably, none of the other moviegoers appeared to notice. Employees said nobody mobbed Biden or called his name or asked for an autograph." Movie theater employee Becky Gingrich explained, "It didn't seem many people recognized him."

During the Roberts interview, Biden attempted to work the "humble" part of the question into his response. He elaborated, "It's not about me. It's about, I think, the hope and expectation they [Americans] have for our administration. But it's spontaneous everywhere I've gone around the country."

Setting up the question, Roberts replayed the original "enchanted" question from the news conference, directed to Barack Obama. She enthused, " So, what has surprised you in your first 100 days?" And then followed-up by cooing, "And enchanted you?...And humbled you?"

A transcript of the April 30 interview, which aired at 7:08am, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Well, President Obama marked the 100th day of his office- in office with a prime-time news conference last night. The first issue he addressed, swine flu, and its impact on parents and children. We asked Vice President Joe Biden about that and other issues when he joined us just moments ago from his official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington. Good to see you, Vice President Biden. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. The President talked about parents and businesses having a contingency plan in case more children need to stay home from school. Do you know exactly what he means by contingency plan?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, yes, I do. For example, that- a parent whose child's school is closed out of a precaution, or because there's been a confirmed case of flu, should not take that child into a day-care center. They're going to have to take them home. And the hope is that the employers will have- be generous, in terms of how they treat that employee's necessary action of taking the child home and not being at work. And so, the urging is the contingency plans that businesses should have, if they're going- if this hits in a way that their employees have to care for their children.

ROBERTS: Our Jake Tapper asked the President if he thought that the previous administration had sanctioned torture. And this is how the President responded.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that the- whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.

ROBERTS: There's a couple times that Jake tried to get an answer from the President and wasn't quite able to. So, let me ask you. Do you think that the Bush administration sanctioned torture?

BIDEN: I think the Bush administration misread the law, justified the action, which both the President and I believe to be torture on a faulty rationale. So, I think they were mistaken in their judgment as to whether or not it constituted torture. We believe it was torture. We've ended the practice.

ROBERTS: There's a lot of talk about- and you all have talked a lot about, the economy, and what's going on, of course. And the economy shrank at an alarming rate. 6.1 percent in the first quarter. Is it going to continue at this rate before it gets better, Vice President?

BIDEN: I think unemployment is going to continue this rate before it gets better. But I don't think the economy is likely to continue shrinking at this rate. Remember that, you know, we said it was an alarming rate. But it wasn't an unpredictable rate. We've been in office for a third of this quarter. Or two-thirds of this quarter. And the plans we have put in place to begin to turn this economy around, are going to take some time. So, it wasn't a shock. Disappointing that it grew- that it shrunk at that number.

ROBERTS: Well, let's end, as it did at the press conference, on a bit of a lighter note. The President, when he was asked about what surprised, troubled, enchanted and humbled him? This is what the President said last night.

OBAMA: I've got- what was the first one?

JEFF ZELENY (New York Times): Surprised, troubled. Surprised.

OBAMA: Surprised.

ZELENY: Troubled.

OBAMA: Troubled.

ZELENY: Enchanted.

OBAMA: Enchanted?

ZELENY: And humbled.

[clip ends]

ROBERTS: We won't make you have to write it down. But, we'll do a little lightning round. So, what has surprised you in your first 100 days?

BIDEN: What surprise me is the pace. I've been in Washington a long time. The pace of decisions that had to be made. What has troubled me is the failure of us to get the kind of cooperation we hoped we would get on major issues with some of our Republican colleagues. There seemed to be, at least at the outset, a determination not to cooperate. I hopeful that's going to change. We continue to reach out. But, I was a little surprised that on the big-ticket items that we're facing, in terms of crisis, there might have been a little more cooperation. But this is early.

ROBERTS: And enchanted you?

BIDEN: My wife, on the night of the inauguration.

ROBERTS: And humbled you?

BIDEN: She was gorgeous.

ROBERTS: She was.

BIDEN: What's humbled me, as you walk out, I mean, everywhere I go, crowds spontaneously assemble. They start to cheer, whether I go to a play on Broadway or I'm going home to Wilmington, Delaware. I walk on the train. People stand up and clap. I mean, it's humbled me. It's not about me. It's about, I think, the hope and expectation they have for our administration. But it's spontaneous everywhere I've gone around the country. And it really is humbling. And it makes you realize that people are really banking on us, you know, changing the day. And it really it is humbling.

ROBERTS: I'm sure it is. Vice President Joe Biden, always a pleasure to see you. Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great day.

BIDEN: Thank you, Robin. Thanks a lot.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's site.