Obama apologizes for insurance cancellations, says Biden has his back

Posted by Lesley Clark on November 7, 2013 


Pam Brennan, of Cary, North Carolina, center, discusses the different healthcare options for her family with Kennia Gaines, a personal reform advisor, right, at the BlueCross BlueShield of N.C. on October 1, 2013.


President Obama offered a spirited defense of his vice president -- and said there's no way he would've thought of running for re election without him.

In a wide ranging interview with NBC News -- in which he personally apologized for dropped health insurance plans -- Obama said he wasn't aware his campaign staff had polled the effect of replacing Biden on the ticket with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"People do all kinds of stuff. Some of it-- they clear with me, sometimes they're trying to figure something out-- particularly on the political side," Obama said. "And I'm not somebody who delves into polling and all that data."

And he added, "Here's the one thing I can say for certain. That if they had asked me, I would have said there is no way that I'm not running again with Joe Biden. Because I genuinely believe that he has been one of the best vice presidents in our history. He also happens to be a friend. He also happens to be one of my most important advisors on domestic foreign policy. I like him. When my back's up against the wall, he has my back."

The news of the Biden-Clinton swap was included in the recently released book, Double Down, and Obama suggested "folks" in Washington "like to seem important by getting their version of events in the press, or books or what have you. That's just kind of part of the atmosphere that you live in."

Obama said he and Biden discussed the incident. "And what I told him, and he knows and he believes me is that I would not be here if it weren't for the support that I've had from Joe Biden. He is a personal friend and advisor. It's one of the best decisions that I've ever made was selecting him as vice president. I couldn't be prouder of the job that he's done."

Obama also offered support for embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- though he stopped short of saying he had "full confidence" in the former Kansas governor, whom several members of Congress have asked to resign.

Obama said that Sebelius, "under tremendously difficult circumstances" had set up the insurance markets to provide a good product.

"Kathleen Sebelius doesn't write code. Yeah, she wasn't our I.T. person," Obama said of the glitchy website. "I think she'd be the first to admit that if we had to do it all over again, that there would have been a whole lot more questions that were asked, in terms of how this thing is working. But my priority right now is to get it fixed."

Obama said his administration is working "every single day, 24/7" to improve healthcare.gov and that it's better than it was when it first launched.

"I'm confident that it will be even better by November 30th and that the majority of people are going to be able to get on there," he said. "They're going to be able to enroll. They're going to be able to apply. And they're going to get a good deal, a better deal than they've got right now when it comes to buying health insurance."

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