The White House pushed back Wednesday against a harsh critique from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who in an upcoming memoir accuses Vice President Joe Biden of being wrong on foreign policy and national security issues over the last 40 years.
President Barack Obama did not have much foreign policy experience when he chose Biden, the former longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his running mate in 2008.
But Gates’ criticism follows a long line of complaints from Republicans that Biden has been wrong more often than right.
Republican Mitt Romney in 2008 accused Biden of being “wrong for 30 years;” former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove in 2010 accused Biden of being “on the wrong end of virtually every foreign policy dispute” since he was elected in the 1970s; and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, in a presidential debate in 2012, said that taking an opinion counter to Biden would ensure accuracy “100 percent of the time.”
Republicans say Biden got it wrong in the 1980s when he said that President Ronald Reagan’s defense buildup would strengthen the Soviet Union rather than defeat it; that he wrongly opposed the 1991 Persian Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush; was wrong after the 2003 U.S. invasion to champion a controversial proposal to divide Iraq into three regions, for Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites; and was wrong when he opposed the surge of extra troops for Iraq in 2007.
On another, Biden now says he regrets one decision: voting for war in Iraq in 2002.
And Biden acknowledged in 2012 that he had advised Obama against launching the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden.
Gates, in his book, called Obama’s decision to order the raid “one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House.”
But his critique of Biden was tough.
The White House sought Wednesday to portray Biden as a trusted presidential adviser, allowing news photographers to shoot Obama and Biden eating lunch together in the president’s dining room, as the two paused between a national security briefing and a flurry of meetings with intelligence community leaders and Secretary of State John Kerry. They noted Biden had spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to pledge U.S. support and aid as his government battles al Qaida-backed insurgents.
Press Secretary Jay Carney said the timing of the luncheon was a coincidence – and that photographers were allowed in as part of the administration’s promise to improve press access. And he said Biden routinely attends major national security meetings when he’s in town.
Carney said the White House disagrees with Gates’ assessment.