Did Biden have choice between VP, secretary of State?

Jill Biden implied Monday that her husband was offered more than one position in an Obama administration.

Published January 19, 2009 9:05PM (EST)

Apparently, Joe Biden isn't the only one in his family who sometimes says things he shouldn't. Biden and his wife made a surprise guest appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show Monday, and Jill Biden took the opportunity to let slip some interesting information about how her husband came to be vice president-elect.

According to Jill Biden, the now-former senator from Delaware was offered his choice of two positions in an Obama administration: He could be Barack Obama's running mate and, eventually, vice president, or he could become secretary of state. After his wife divulged this, Joe Biden loudly said, "Shhhh!"

After thinking it over with his wife, Biden -- obviously -- chose the former. "If you're secretary of state, you'll be away, we'll never see you, you know," recalled saying. "I'll see you at a state dinner once and awhile. But I said, if you are vice president, the entire family, because they worked so hard for the election, they can be involved. They can come to our home. They can go to events, they can be with us all the time. And that's what's important to us."

Update: Elizabeth Alexander, a spokeswoman for the vice president-elect, walks Jill Biden's remark back in this statement that was released Monday afternoon:

Like anyone who followed the presidential campaign this summer, Dr. Jill Biden knew there was a chance that President-elect Obama might ask her husband to serve in some capacity and that, given his background, the positions of Vice President and Secretary of State were possibilities. Dr. Biden's point to Oprah today was that being Vice President would be a better fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more. To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only -- to be his running mate. And the Vice President-elect was thrilled to accept the offer.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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