In a CNN joint interview with running-mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Joe Biden said that if he has a “fundamental disagreement” with Harris while she serves as his vice president, he will “develop some disease and say I have to resign.” While Biden likely meant this line to be a joke, he delivered it straight and neither he nor Harris laughed. It appears CNN moderator Jake Tapper also did not laugh.
Biden insisted that he agreed with Kamala Harris on important matters like his philosophy of government, and he only spoke about getting sick and resigning in cases of fundamental disagreement.
“But all kidding aside, it’s a matter of the thing we are simpatico on our philosophy of government and simpatico on how we want to approach these issues that we’re facing,” Biden said.
“When we disagree, so far it’s been just like when Barack and I did. It’s in private. She’ll say, ‘I think we should do A, B, C, or D,’ and I’ll say, ‘I like A, don’t like B and C.’ Like I told Barack, if I reach something where there’s a fundamental disagreement we have based on a moral principle, I’ll develop some disease and say I have to resign,” Biden said.
Biden delivered the line seriously, as if he were continuing to speak frankly about his discussions with Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.
After all, Biden began the vignette with the statement, “All kidding aside.” It seems as though Biden was reading from a script written by someone else who intended the getting sick line as a joke, but Biden didn’t get the joke, so he delivered it as though it were a serious remark.
Naturally, it seems highly unlikely Biden actually intended to pledge to the American people that in cases of serious disagreement with Kamala Harris, he would simply get sick and resign. After all, if he did win the — as yet disputed — 2020 election, Americans elected Biden, not Harris, to be president. But his delivery — and the reactions of others involved — make it harder to just dismiss his comment as tongue-in-cheek.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shared the moment on Twitter.
Biden on what he would do if he disagrees with Kamala:
"I'll develop some disease and say I have to resign." 🤔 pic.twitter.com/eUhamNMgwp
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) December 4, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.