LAS VEGAS — In a brief conversation with Yahoo News on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta said Vice President Joe Biden “needs to make up his mind about whether he wants to run or not.”
Biden has said he’s considering throwing his hat into the ring and there has been widespread speculation the vice president is waiting to see how Clinton handles her testimony before the House Benghazi committee, which is scheduled for October 22. Yahoo News asked Podesta about this theory in the spin room ahead of Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate. Podesta said he doesn’t think Clinton’s testimony should be a factor in Biden’s decision.
“I would say that I know that he needs to make up his mind about whether he wants to run or not. I wouldn’t think that would be the criteria upon which he’d decide whether to run or not, but at this point he needs to make up his mind,” Podesta said of Biden.
Whatever decision Biden makes, it won’t change how Clinton’s campaign operates, Podesta said.
“If he runs, you know, we’re all friends with him. And if he decides to run, he’ll run. But we’re going to run the campaign we want to run,” Podesta said.
Podesta initially brought up Clinton’s impending testimony before the House Benghazi committee when asked about a story published by Politico on Tuesday morning. That article detailed the Clinton campaign’s response to the questions that have been raised about her use of a private email server for official business while she was secretary of state. Politico reported Clinton and her top aides disagreed about how the campaign should handle the issue, before she ultimately decided to say she was “sorry” for how she handled her emails.
Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the American Job Creation and Infrastructure Forum in Washington last week. (Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
Podesta, who was described by Politico as having pushed for an immediate apology, dismissed the idea the report captured a campaign divided.
”I didn’t see any division in the ranks. I thought that the Politico story laid out a summer in which we got to a place where she answered people’s questions, she took responsibility, said that she was sorry about the choice she had made,” Podesta said.
Podesta went on to say Clinton is glad she will be able to testify in front of the House Benghazi committee. He alluded to recent indications the special committee, which was originally established to investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, has instead become a “partisan” effort to damage Clinton.
“Now we’re looking forward to testifying before what has now been seen to be a partisan committee that’s been set up to damage her and extend this investigation — the eighth, by the way, on Benghazi — into the campaign season,” Podesta said. “So, we’re looking forward to that, and I think she’s looking forward to testifying.”
Late last month, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy seemed to boast in a television interview that the Republican-led committee had negatively affected Clinton’s “numbers.” Following those comments, a staffer who had been dismissed from the committee came forward and claimed it had become a “partisan” effort designed to target Clinton.