Intervju med medarbetare till Joe Biden

En av Joe Bidens tidigare medarbetare, Peter Dahlen, bor numera i Sverige. Jag har på senare tid blivit bekant med honom och bad att få intervju honom om hans tidigare chef. Hur var det att jobba för Biden, stämmer bilden av honom i boken What It Takes - och hur ser hans framtid ut?

Ni kan följa Peter på Twitter: @PeterDahlen

You worked for Joe Biden when he was a Senator. Please tell me about a little bit about yourself and what work you did.

Peter Dahlen: Before moving to Sweden, I served as a counsel to Vice President Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee. My portfolio included intellectual property, privacy, terrorism, prisons, and other urgent matters that arose from time to time, such as the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and the impeachment of President Clinton. I was part of what is called the professional staff that brief Members of Congress on policy issues within the committee’s jurisdiction; plan agendas; review budgets; coordinate hearings and meetings; draft and analyze legislation; draft committee reports; prepare legislation for reporting to the Senate; and assist Members in committee meetings, and on the floor; and monitor the implementation of laws and the administration of programs. Professional staff also maintain liaison with their counterparts in the House of Representatives, executive branch officials, and interest groups with matters before the committee. Prior to that, I served as Legislative Liaison/Issues Coordinator for Citizens for Biden. In that capacity, I was responsible for opposition research, debate preparation and for liaising with the Senate office.

When you read What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer you get the picture that Joe Biden is a very impulsive guy, very sociable and fun to be around. What is your impression of him and what was it like to work for him?

PD: Richard Ben Cramer paints a pretty accurate picture. In my opinion, Vice President Biden is one of the most compelling American politicians of our time. He has a remarkable ability to connect with people of all stations in life, whether it’s one-on-one or speaking to an audience. What is more, he is utterly authentic and sincere. He is the same in public as he is in private – a passionate advocate for the causes he champions, and a devoted father, husband, grandfather, brother, son, and friend. While Capitol Hill is a high-pressure environment and Vice President Biden was a demanding boss, he was always fair and his integrity was beyond reproach. I was always proud to work for him – indeed I remain proud of my service in his office – and this is a feeling that far too many Congressional staffers do not have occasion to enjoy.

Valrörelsens skönaste bild.
There is a lot of talk about him running for President in 2016, what is your take on that?

PD: I think he will run. Moreover, it is important that people think he will run, so he can maximize his leverage while serving as Vice President.

Do you think he wants to and do you think he will?

PD: I think he wants to run and I expect that he will run -- at the very least I think he will form an exploratory committee, which is, as you likely know, a precursor to running. Whether he ultimately launches a campaign will depend on a number of factors, most important being the support of his family. And, if Hillary Clinton changes her mind and decides to run, he may opt not to run.

If he runs for President again, what are his chances and biggest obstacles?

PD: In light of his increased name recognition, his strong record of defending the middle class, his foreign policy expertise, his history of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, and his loyal supporters among President Obama’s finance team, I think his chances are very good and certainly much improved over 2008. I really believe his bipartisan history and friendships will be an asset if he wins the Democratic nomination. To give but one example, he was asked to speak at his friend Republican Senator Strom Thurmond's funeral. In terms of obstacles, aside from a potential run by Secretary Clinton, age (he will be almost 74 in November 2016) and the media’s coverage of incidents where he misspoke are the biggest. And, naturally, any potential run will be heavily influenced by whether President Obama’s second term is deemed a success.