Cloth napkins, candlelight and confidence: Biden lunches with Obama

October 6, 2015

White House reporters were hungry for a taste of what it might be like behind closed doors when Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama sat down for their weekly lunch in the private dining room on Tuesday.

What they really wanted to know: would Biden and Obama talk about Biden’s pending decision on whether to jump into the Democratic 2016 presidential race? White House spokesman Josh Earnest played along for a while, describing the scene.

“Cloth napkins, candlelight maybe,” he joked at the daily briefing before noting that the weekly lunch is “typically pretty casual” whether it’s indoors or “al fresco” outside the Oval Office. “Obviously, the two of them have been having lunch about once a week for almost seven years now, so they can dispense with the formalities,” Earnest said.

The lunch typically is slated to run for about 45 minutes but sometimes goes longer, and covers both personal and business topics.

“Whether it’s discussing politics or upcoming policy decisions … the president has long relied on the wisdom and insight that the vice president has to share,” he said.

But Earnest would not bite on whether Obama has given Biden any advice on how quickly to make up his mind about 2016. “His opinion is that the vice president should take all the time that he feels is necessary to make what the president firsthand knows is an intensely personal decision,” Earnest said.

U.S. President Barack Obama (center R) and Vice President Joe Biden (center L) walk out of the White House grounds to buy lunch from a nearby sandwich shop in Washington, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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