Vice President Joe Biden quipped during a speech to a Jewish group Monday that he doesn’t “agree with a damn thing” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.
Speaking to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America Monday, Biden addressed his opening joke to the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer.
“Now Ron, you better damn well report to Bibi that we're still buddies," Biden said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
"I signed a picture for Bibi a long time ago—I have a bad habit of, no one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes I say all that I mean, though—and I signed a picture a long time for Bibi,” Biden continued. “He's been a friend for over 30 years. I said 'Bibi, I don't agree with a damn thing you say but I love you.' But we really are good friends."
Secretary of State John Kerry called Khamenei's weekend tweets "unacceptable and shocking" in a Monday phone call with Netanyahu.
National Review Online commented on Biden’s remarks that the vice president “put his foot in his mouth for the umpteenth time on Monday, ‘joking’ in front of a Jewish audience that he doesn’t agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on ‘a damn thing.’”
It also came just a few weeks after the revelation that an unnamed Obama administration had called Netanyahu a “chickens**t.”
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell observed Monday that Biden was “making it clear that he has a relationship with Netanyahu, even if President Obama doesn’t.”
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza said Biden’s casual friendly attitude could work against him in a future presidential bid.
“He’s a friendly, likeable guy who has built lots of relationships,” Cillizza said. “All of the relationships that Joe Biden has, it doesn’t work as well when you move up a level and run for president because his sort of hail fellow well met shtick is not always as well received if you think of him in a presidential light.”
In his speech, Biden also emphasized the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
"We will never abandon Israel — out of our own self-interest,” the vice president said.
On the subject of ongoing negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, Biden said, "I've heard so much malarkey, so let me make it clear: We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Period."