Mrs. Veep tells secret on Oprah’s show
The wife of Vice President-elect Joe Biden let it slip to Oprah Winfrey Monday that her husband had a pick of two jobs in the Obama administration.
Jill Biden said President-elect Barack Obama gave Biden the choice of being secretary of state or vice president. The vice president-elect tried to hush his wife as soon as the words came out of her mouth, with a loud “shhh!” that sent the audience into laughter.
The Bidens made a surprise appearance on Winfrey’s show, recorded at the Kennedy Center for broadcast later Monday on the eve of the inauguration. The celebrity-filled show also included the premiere of “America’s Song,” performed by Faith Hill, Seal, Bono, Mary J. Blige, Will.i.am and David Foster in honor of the occasion and available for free download on Winfrey’s Web site.
The vice president-elect said he only accepted Obama’s offer to be his running mate after talking it over with “Jilly,” his pet name for his wife. Mrs. Biden said she told him vice president would be better for the family.
“If you’re secretary of state, you’ll be away, we’ll never see you, you know,” she said. “I’ll see you at a state dinner once and awhile. But I said, if you are vice president, the entire family, because they worked so hard for the election, they can be involved. They can come to our home. They can go to events, they can be with us all the time. And that’s what’s important to us.”
Obama’s transition office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he was offered both jobs. Obama gave the secretary of state job to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The vice president-elect didn’t address his wife’s comments, but said didn’t immediately take the vice presidential offer since he wasn’t sure it was the best place for him to serve. But Biden, who ran against Obama in the Democratic primary race, said he agreed after getting some assurances from Obama about his role.
“This is a partnership,” Biden said. “He’s president of the United States, but as I said to him when he asked me, I said, ‘Barack, don’t ask me unless the reason you’re asking me is, you’re asking me for my judgment. I get to be the last guy in the room before you make every important decision. You’re president. Any decision you make, I will back.’ ”
“He said he wanted to have a confidant and somebody who wouldn’t be a yes man. He’s pretty sure about that” last part, Biden said with a laugh.
Winfrey also interviewed movie star couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher about how Obama has inspired them to pledge to help end slave labor around the world. Other celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson, Justin Timberlake and Forest Whitaker appeared by videotape to talk about what Obama’s election means to them.
Winfrey, who made her first ever presidential endorsement for Obama, heralded the significance of the moment particularly coming the day after Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“I feel like I am better because of his being elected,” Winfrey said. “And I think that the country is going to be better. I feel like it is a beautiful thing, and we all start to see ourselves differently, the possibility.”
Winfrey ended the show by singing along with the musicians to the chorus of “America’s Song,” written by Foster and Will.i.am at Oprah’s request. She said the performance came together in a week and is available for free download on Oprah.com for 24 hours after the show’s airing.