Biden: President ‘sends me to places that he doesn’t want to go.’

Vice President Biden apparently isn't getting choice assignments as he travels the world on behalf of President Obama.

The loquacious veep told a security conference in Munich, Germany, on Saturday morning that Obama sends him to the places he doesn't want to go -- a joke (we assume) that prompted laughter from the crowd.

I have traveled over 640,000 miles since I’ve been vice president, and most of the time the president sends me to places that he doesn’t want to go. So I’ve spent an awful lot of time with McCain and others in Afghanistan and Iraq, and so it’s nice to be here in Germany.  It’s nice to be invited back.

Biden and his wife, Jill, are on a five-day trip to Germany, France and Britain. In Germany, Biden is meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Saturday morning he addressed the Munich Security Conference, at which he also spoke at the start of Obama's first term. He also met with leaders of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Biden will be meeting in Paris with President François Hollande and in London with Prime Minister David Cameron.

In his more serious remarks in Munich, Biden recalled the foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration, including ending the war in Iraq and beginning to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Biden also praised the work done by the the United States and Europe to restrain Iran. And he called for more efforts to overcome issues that "divide us" -- including work to forge a new transatlantic trade deal.

Biden also gave a little preview of Obama's State of the Union speech:

President Obama will say more about this agenda next week in his State of the Union address, and I’ve learned as vice president it’s not a good thing to steal the president’s thunder...  I’ve learned that.  I’ve gotten better after four years of this.
But it will reflect our shared interests in the following areas:  advancing a comprehensive nuclear agenda to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, reduce global stockpiles and secure nuclear materials -- and I am looking forward -- Sam told me of the initiative that he and his colleagues are thinking about, and we’re anxious to hear it -- getting -- combating climate change, moving it up on the agenda; enhancing our development initiatives to promote global health and food security and end extreme poverty in the near future; strengthening our alliances, which are essentially -- essential to our ability to meet our challenges in the 21st century; continuing to take down barriers to trade including with Europe to spur growth on both sides of the Atlantic; maintaining our commitment to the elusive but essential goal of Middle East Peace; and strengthening the -- engaging the democracies in Southeast Asia, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and across the Middle East.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is a staff writer covering the White House, focusing on President Obama’s economic, financial and fiscal policy.
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Zachary A. Goldfarb · February 2, 2013