Joe Biden Jokingly Suggests Ted Cruz for Supreme Court Pick

Joe Biden Jokingly Suggests Ted Cruz for Supreme Court Pick

- in Politics

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had some tongue-in-cheek advice for President Obama on Saturday about whom he should nominate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy that has preoccupied the White House and incited an election-year fight.

Choose Senator Ted Cruz, Mr. Biden joked, referring to the Republican presidential candidate from Texas, who is unpopular with his colleagues.

“Look, I told Barack if you really, really want to remake the Supreme Court, nominate Cruz,” Mr. Biden said at the annual Gridiron Dinner, according to excerpts from his prepared speech released by his office. “Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”

It was more than just a humorous dig at Mr. Cruz during the traditional Washington event, where politicians roast themselves in speeches and journalists lampoon them in musical skits. Mr. Biden’s remarks hit on the historic stakes facing the president as he ponders his choice to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving Mr. Obama with a chance to fundamentally reshape the nation’s highest court by replacing its leading conservative.

The Gridiron, whose motto is “to singe but never burn,” was once considered strictly off the record; these days, cameras are still banned, but what is said is on the record. The White House released transcripts of Mr. Obama’s remarks when he spoke there in years past, and Mr. Biden’s office distributed excerpts this year.

They included comments defending a 1992 speech — seized on by Republicans to justify their contention that Mr. Obama has no right to fill the Supreme Court vacancy — in which Mr. Biden, then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said a president should not try to name someone to the high court during a presidential election year.

“A lot of you have brought up a clip from a speech I made in 1992,” Mr. Biden said. “Look, what can I tell you? That was a different time.”

He went on to describe a political landscape from nearly a quarter-century ago that looks remarkably similar to today.

“A Clinton was at the top of the polls. The Bush dynasty was in trouble. Donald Trump was saying outlandish things,” Mr. Biden said. “As I said, a totally different time.”

The vice president defended the speech in a New York Times Op-Ed last week, saying he had not meant it to justify obstruction but to argue for a more consultative Supreme Court nomination process and the selection of a consensus candidate.

But on Saturday night, there was little nuance to Mr. Biden’s routine. He returned often to his own lingering presidential aspirations, which ended late last year when he decided against a bid for the Democratic nomination, and to speculation that Mr. Obama might nominate himself to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

Mr. Biden took the stage on Saturday to the strains of “Hail to the Chief,” the anthem that heralds the president’s arrival, and he said, “God, I love that song.”

“The other day I walked into the Oval and said, ‘Barack, I think you should resign,’ ” Mr. Biden told the audience.

“He said, ‘To join the Supreme Court?’ ” Mr. Biden continued. “I said, ‘Sure, whatever.’ ”


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