After Pope Francis condemned Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the Republican front-runner called his remarks “disgraceful,” Vice President Joe Biden said the feud is “not a hard call.”
“Pope Francis, Donald Trump? That’s not a hard call for me, not even close,” Biden said. “I am not a theologian nor am I priest or a minister, but I think that building walls is fundamentally contrary to what made this country what it is.”
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday, Biden tackled everything from the battle to fill the Supreme Court’s empty seat to his moonshot initiative to cure cancer, a form of which killed his 46-year-old son, Beau Biden, last May.
“We have a dysfunctional Congress, we don’t need an institutionally dysfunctional Supreme Court,” he said, arguing that Senate Republicans are “intimidated” by far-right presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz.
“I think it’s the tail wagging the dog,” he said.
Biden, who credits his own decision not to run for president to needing more time for his family to heal after losing Beau, said “everything about him was duty.”
“This is a guy who didn’t have to go to Iraq, but insisted, highly decorated when he came back,” Biden said. “Had a chance to be appointed to the attorney general, said no, had a chance to be appointed to my [Senate] seat, wanted no part in it.”
Though Biden mentioned last month that he regretted not running in 2016, he says he doesn’t regret making “the right decision for my family.” Biden added that he doesn’t “plan on remaining silent,” and will continue to advocate for the policies he and the president instituted over the last seven years.
Would he have wanted Beau to run for president, had he lived?
“Yes, I think it’s a lost opportunity for the country,” he said. “This is an exceptional guy, he’s my son. He’s my son and people expect me to say that, but almost anyone you talk to [says] this was a truly exceptional guy.”
Still, Biden said his son’s death empowered him to accelerate the fight against cancer.
“Beau’s illness forced me—not forced me, enabled me— to get deep in the weeds about cancer and cancer research. It wasn’t just that he was ill, he died, and I decided I had to help,” Biden said. “It’s that I learned so much from so many of these brilliant docs that I began to realize that they’re right, that we’re in an inflection point.”
Biden added that he doesn’t want to call it a “moonshot,” as President Obama dubbed it during his State of the Union, because “it’s within our reach.”