Joe Biden hasn’t told Obama about new gun plans
By REID J. EPSTEIN| 5/3/13 5:02 AM EDT Updated: 5/3/13 1:04 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden is planning a new gun control offensive — he just hasn’t told the president yet.
Biden told a group of law enforcement officials Thursday that he is planning even more travel, with trips around the country to stump for a renewed push on expanded background checks and gun-trafficking laws that failed to pass the Senate last month.
But Biden volunteered that he “hasn’t really discussed” his plans with President Barack Obama and plans to lead the gun control charge on his own, according to two law enforcement officials who attended the meeting. The 90-minute meeting in Biden’s office was an attempt to move forward after the failed effort on background checks.
Biden will appear Friday night at a South Carolina Democratic dinner that’s his first stop in a key 2016 primary state. He told the law enforcement officials Thursday that he is planning even more travel, with trips around the country to stump for a renewed push on the failed gun measures.
The vice president rattled off poll numbers of senators the White House and its gun control allies think they can win over and said he’ll lead the effort to tweak legislation to give recalcitrant senators the cover to vote for expanded background checks.
“He was talking like he was going to be leading it,” a person who was at the meeting said. “He didn’t mention any other senators in terms of leading the charge.”
Biden’s suggestion that he hasn’t informed Obama of his plans echoes statements he made in December and January when he held a series of meetings with advocates interested in curbing gun violence. At that time, Biden said he would gather gun control proposals and determine which ones to take to the president.
Biden, of course, also has a history of getting himself ahead of Obama on issues, most notably on gay marriage. Biden last year told “Meet the Press” that he supported gay marriage before Obama had himself announced he supported it.
Days later, after a frenzy of criticism, Obama announced that he too supported gay marriage, but not without signaling his frustration with Biden, who he said got “a little bit over his skis.”
White House officials said Obama had planned to finish his “evolution” — as he famously described his gay marriage position in 2010 — on the issue later in the year but said Biden forced his hand.
The meeting in Biden’s ceremonial office followed a similar session last week for leading gun control groups. Like that meeting, Thursday’s gathering focused more on what will happen next than what mistakes led to the failure of the background checks bill offered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“His candid request was for us to tell him what can be done differently,” said Jon Adler, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “His sense was not to go back to the drawing board with the same thing that just lost.”
Adler added: “You bet on a horse and lose, you’re not going to bet on the same exact horse in the same race.”
People who attended the meeting also said Biden agreed with a characterization that the White House and gun control allies failed to properly educate the public about what was in the Manchin-Toomey bill.
The White House referred questions to Biden’s office, which declined to comment on the meeting.