Vice President Joe Biden apologized to President Barack Obama for making remarks that prompted the president to disclose his support for same-gender marriage before he planned to, according to an administration official.
Biden delivered the apology to the president yesterday morning, before Obama gave an interview to ABC News in which he said he’s had a change of heart and now supports legal same gender marriage, the official said.
Biden’s remarks in a May 6 broadcast of NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-gender marriage forced the president to speed up his timetable for revealing his position, administration officials said.
“The president has been the leader on this issue from Day One and the vice president never intended to distract from that,” Kendra Barkoff, Biden’s press secretary, said in an e- mail. The New York Times reported the apology earlier.
In the ABC News interview in which he revealed his change in stance, Obama said Biden “probably got out a little bit over his skis” in making his remarks “out of a generosity of spirit.”
While Obama said he would have preferred to announce his stance “in my own way, in my own terms,” there were no hard feelings.
“All’s well that ends well,” Obama said.
Administration officials who briefed reporters on the president’s decision to make public his support for same-gender marriage said Obama had changed his stance earlier this year. The president and about a half-dozen aides were still deliberating the time and place for the announcement when Biden made his remarks on “Meet the Press.”
The president’s advisers knew that Biden, though speaking on his own, would effectively be voicing a new policy when the recorded interview aired, according to the officials.
Same gender rights advocates stepped up pressure on the White House for Obama to take a stand in favor of same-gender marriage following broadcast of Biden’s statement. Education Secretary Arne Duncan also expressed his support when asked about the issue the day after Biden’s statements aired.
While Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, said on May 7 he didn’t have any update on the president’s previous declaration that his view was “evolving,” other members of Obama’s team were working on ways to present the issue.
On May 8, before Obama left Washington for a trip to Albany, New York, to talk about the economy, Obama’s communications office called ABC News to arrange the interview, officials said.
Biden has previously stepped on the administration’s message with public statements.
At a retreat for Democratic House members in February 2009, shortly after taking office, Biden told his audience about an Oval Office conversation on reviving the economy, saying, “if we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, we stand up there and we make really tough decisions, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong.”
A week later, Obama was asked about it at a White House news conference.
“You know, I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to, not surprisingly,” Obama said to laughter. He said his vice president “may have been suggesting” that “given the magnitude of the challenges that we have, any single thing that we do is going to be part of the solution, not all of the solution.”