Skip to content
Fact
ba
.
se

Interview: Norah O'Donnell Interviews Joe Biden at The White House - February 5, 2021

  • Joe Biden
    Person
  • Norah O'Donnell
    Person
  • Note
    Person
Slightly Positive

Note

Unknown
00:00:00-00:00:00 ( sec)
[Norah O'Donnell of CBS Evening News conducted an interview with Joe Biden on February 5, 2021. It aired in four parts on February 5, 2021, on CBS' Face the Nation on February 7, 2021, during the Super Bowl pre-game show the same day, and a less edited segment that aired on February 8, 2021. The full edited interview, in a very different order, was released on February 8, 2021 on YouTube. This transcript has been updated to reflect the end-to-end order as released on February 8, 2021, which also appears to show some edits. It is presented as released in its final version.] 1

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:00:00-00:00:05 (6 sec)
Welcome back. We're here at the White House with the President of the United States. Mr. President, thank you. 2

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:00:05-00:00:07 (2 sec)
Great to be with you, thank you. 3

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:00:07-00:00:13 (6 sec)
This Super Bowl is going to be unlike any other. I mean, about 25,000 fans in the stands. 4

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
00:00:13-00:00:14 (1 sec)
Yeah. 5

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:00:14-00:00:20 (6 sec)
Do you think a year from now there will be a Super Bowl where you can -- they can play in front of a full stadium? 6

Joe Biden

Positive
00:00:20-00:00:32 (12 sec)
It's my hope and expectation, if we're able to put together and make up for all the lost time fighting COVID that's occurred -- that we'll be able to watch the Super Bowl -- with a full stadium. 7

Note

Unknown
00:00:32-00:00:32 ( sec)
[Edit in Video] 8

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:00:32-00:00:46 (13 sec)
The Super Bowl is just one of those great American celebrations. And all those house parties, all those things that aren't happening. But God willing -- we're gonna be -- be able to celebrate it all as usual a year from now. 9

Norah O'Donnell

Positive
00:00:46-00:00:48 (2 sec)
But there may be some house parties happening. 10

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:00:48-00:00:59 (11 sec)
Oh, I'm sure there are. I know it's hard. It was hard at Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's. But, you know, I hope people, if you're watchin', be careful. Be careful. 11

Note

Unknown
00:00:59-00:00:59 ( sec)
[Edit in Video] 12

Norah O'Donnell

Neutral
00:00:59-00:01:03 (4 sec)
People want to know when things are going to get back to normal. 13

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:03-00:01:04 (1 sec)
Yup. 14

Norah O'Donnell

Positive
00:01:04-00:01:23 (19 sec)
And the road ahead is pretty daunting. To get herd immunity, Dr. Fauci has said you have to have at least 75% of Americans vaccinated. We did the math and at the current rate of 1.3 million doses a day, it's gonna take almost a year to get there. 15

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:23-00:01:24 (1 sec)
That's -- 16

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:01:24-00:01:25 (2 sec)
Can we wait that long? 17

Joe Biden

Very Negative
00:01:25-00:01:38 (12 sec)
No, we can't. That's why -- one of the disappointments was -- when we came to office, is the circumstance relating to how the administration was handling COVID was even more dire than we thought. 18

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:01:38-00:01:39 (1 sec)
The Trump administration? 19

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:01:39-00:01:59 (20 sec)
The Trump administration. We thought they had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available, and didn't turn out to be the case. So that's why we've ramped up every way we can. I got a call through Commissioner Goodell saying we could have all 32 NFL stadiums available for mass vaccinations. We are -- 20

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:01:59-00:02:01 (2 sec)
Are you gonna use them, NFL stadiums to vaccinate? 21

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
00:02:01-00:02:15 (15 sec)
Absolutely -- we will. And, I mean, let me put it this way -- I'm gonna tell my team they're available and I believe we'll use them. Look, it was one thing if we had enough vaccine, which we didn't. So we're pushing as hard as we can to get more vaccine manufactured. 22

Norah O'Donnell

Positive
00:02:15-00:02:27 (12 sec)
You're President of the United States, Commander-in-chief. Can you do something in terms of going to Moderna, going to Pfizer saying "we need more production?" 23

Joe Biden

Very Negative
00:02:27-00:03:08 (41 sec)
Yes. I think, because we've already done it. But the idea that this can be done and we can get to herd immunity much before the end of next -- this summer, is -- is very difficult. And then the other thing I'm very concerned about, and we've talked about this before, is making sure that the most damaged and hurt neighborhoods and people -- Hispanics, people of color, African-Americans, et cetera, they're dying at much higher rates, they're getting the COVID at much higher rates than white Americans, and there is also an understandable inhibition on the parts of some of those communities to not trust the government. 24

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:03:08-00:03:13 (5 sec)
One of the good things is, the vaccine's tested here in the United States -- 25

Note

Unknown
00:03:13-00:03:13 ( sec)
[Edit in Video] 26

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:03:13-00:03:14 (1 sec)
Let's turn to schools. 27

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
00:03:14-00:03:15 (1 sec)
Sure. 28

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:03:15-00:03:21 (6 sec)
About 20 million American children have not been in the classroom for nearly a year. 29

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:03:21-00:03:22 (1 sec)
I know. 30

Norah O'Donnell

Very Negative
00:03:22-00:03:24 (2 sec)
There's a mental health crisis happening. 31

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:03:24-00:03:26 (1 sec)
There really is. 32

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:03:26-00:03:30 (4 sec)
Women are dropping out of the workforce. Is this a national emergency? 33

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:03:30-00:03:48 (18 sec)
It is a national emergency. It genuinely is a national emergency, and women are dropping out of the workforce because they either have to stay home with their children, or if they had a job, go to work, and what do they do? Child care is extremely expensive. That's why one of the things in the proposal I put together provides for child care as well. 34

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:03:48-00:03:50 (3 sec)
Do you think it's time for schools to reopen? 35

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:03:50-00:04:08 (18 sec)
I think it's time for schools to reopen safely. Safely. Teachers want to go back. My wife's a teacher. They want to go back to school, but what they are initially told, and what the science seem to dictate is: you have to have fewer people in the classroom. You have to have ventilation systems that have been reworked. 36

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:04:08-00:04:28 (20 sec)
You have to have more school buses because not as many kids can get on one school bus. You've got to have sanitation and, in the, everything from the dining room to the lavatories. Our CDC commissioner is gonna be coming out with science-based judgment, within, I think as early as Wednesday as to lay out what the minimum requirements are. 37

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
00:04:28-00:04:36 (8 sec)
I made a commitment that we try to get K-8 back to school by the end of this 100 days. 38

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:04:36-00:04:44 (8 sec)
There are teachers unions across the country though that are resisting efforts to open classrooms. Mike Bloomberg -- you know Mike Bloomberg -- 39

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:04:44-00:04:44 ( sec)
Yup. 40

Norah O'Donnell

Slightly Positive
00:04:44-00:04:52 (8 sec)
He has said "It's time for Joe Biden to stand up to teachers unions because kids are the most important things." Is that gonna happen? 41

Joe Biden

Neutral
00:04:52-00:04:58 (6 sec)
They are, and I have. I've met with the teachers unions. They want to go back to school. They need some guidance. 42

Note

Unknown
00:04:58-00:04:58 ( sec)
[Edit in Video] 43

Norah O'Donnell

Somewhat Positive
00:04:58-00:05:01 (3 sec)
It's so hard with kids not being able to play sports now, a lot of kids. 44

Joe Biden

Leans Positive
00:05:01-00:05:19 (18 sec)
It really is. I think about the price, so many of my grandkids and your kids are going to pay for not having had the chance to finish whatever it was. That graduation where you didn't get to walk across the stage. I think -- they're going through a lot, these kids. 45

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:05:19-00:05:21 (3 sec)
Let's talk about your American Rescue Plan. 46

Joe Biden

Positive
00:05:21-00:05:22 (1 sec)
Yes. 47

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:05:22-00:05:25 (3 sec)
You've said you're not compromising on the $1,400 checks. 48

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
00:05:25-00:05:26 ( sec)
No. 49

Norah O'Donnell

Somewhat Positive
00:05:26-00:05:30 (4 sec)
You made that promise, you're sticking to it. So the big question is who gets the check— 50

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:05:30-00:05:31 (1 sec)
Exactly right. 51

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:05:31-00:05:36 (5 sec)
Is it someone who makes up to $50,000? Or is it someone who makes up to $75,000? 52

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:05:36-00:05:59 (23 sec)
I'm prepared to negotiate on that. But here's the deal: middle class folks need help. But you don't need to get any help to someone making 300,000 bucks or $250,000. So it's somewhere between an individual making up to $75,000 and phasing out, and a couple making up to $150,000 and then phasing out. But again, I'm wide open on what that is. 53

Note

Unknown
00:05:59-00:05:59 ( sec)
[Break in Interview] 54

Norah O'Donnell

Positive
00:05:59-00:06:06 (7 sec)
You also want to raise the minimum wage to $15. Is that something you would be willing to negotiate on in order to get Republican support? 55

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:06:06-00:06:11 (5 sec)
Well, apparently, that's not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate -- 56

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:06:11-00:06:13 (2 sec)
So you're saying the minimum wage won't be in this -- 57

Joe Biden

Very Negative
00:06:13-00:06:45 (32 sec)
My guess is it will not be in it. But I do think that we should have a minimum wage, stand by itself, $15 an hour and work your way up to the fifte -- it doesn't have to be boom. And all the economics show, if you do that, the whole economy rises. I am prepared, as president of the United States on a separate negotiation on minimum wage, to work my way up – from -- what it is now, which is pain -- look, no one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage. 58

Joe Biden

Very Negative
00:06:45-00:06:50 (5 sec)
And if you're making less than $15 an hour, you're living below the poverty wage. 59

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:06:50-00:06:52 (3 sec)
But that may not be in your American Rescue Plan? 60

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
00:06:52-00:06:56 (3 sec)
No. I put it in, but I don't think it's going to survive. 61

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:06:56-00:07:04 (8 sec)
Let's turn to the impeachment trial. President Trump's impeachment trial. If you were still a senator, would you vote to convict him? 62

Joe Biden

Very Negative
00:07:04-00:07:21 (17 sec)
Look, I ran like hell to defeat him because I thought he was unfit to be president. I've watched what everybody else watched, what happened when that -- that crew invaded the United States Congress. But -- I'm not in the Senate now. I'll let the Senate make that decision. 63

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:07:21-00:07:31 (9 sec)
Well, let me ask you then something that you do have oversight of as president. Should former President Trump still receive intelligence briefings? 64

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:07:31-00:07:34 (3 sec)
I think not. 65

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:07:34-00:07:34 ( sec)
Why not? 66

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:07:34-00:07:41 (6 sec)
Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection. 67

Norah O'Donnell

Very Negative
00:07:41-00:07:47 (6 sec)
I mean you've called him an existential threat. You've called him dangerous. You've called him reckless. 68

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
00:07:47-00:07:49 (2 sec)
Yeah, I have. And I believe it. 69

Norah O'Donnell

Very Negative
00:07:49-00:07:51 (3 sec)
What's your worst fear if he continues to get these intelligence briefings? 70

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:07:51-00:08:09 (18 sec)
I'd rather not speculate out loud. I just think that there is no need for him to have that -- the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something? 71

Note

Unknown
00:08:09-00:08:09 ( sec)
[Break in Interview] 72

Norah O'Donnell

Slightly Positive
00:08:09-00:08:16 (7 sec)
The U.S.-China relationship is probably one of the most important in the entire world. Why haven't you called Xi Jinping? 73

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:08:16-00:08:35 (20 sec)
Well, we haven't had an occasion to -- to talk to him yet. There's no reason not to call him. I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I'm told, than any world leader has because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president. Traveled 17,000 miles with him. I know him pretty well. 74

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:08:35-00:08:37 (2 sec)
There's a lot to talk about? 75

Joe Biden

Neutral
00:08:37-00:09:02 (25 sec)
A lot to talk about. A whole lot to talk about. Ans as I've said to him in the past. And – he's very bright. He's very tough. He doesn't have – and I don't mean it as a criticism, just the reality, he doesn't have a democratic, small D, bone in his body. But he is, um, the question is, I've said to him all along, that – we need not have a -- a conflict. 76

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
00:09:02-00:09:17 (14 sec)
But there's going to be extreme competition. And – I'm not going to do it the way that -- he knows this -- and that's because he's sending signals as well, that I'm not going to do it the way Trump did. We're going to focus on international rules of the road. 77

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:09:17-00:09:23 (6 sec)
Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table? 78

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
00:09:23-00:09:24 (1 sec)
No. 79

Norah O'Donnell

Slightly Negative
00:09:24-00:09:27 (3 sec)
They have to stop enriching uranium first? 80

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:09:27-00:09:27 ( sec)
[Nods his head "Yes"] 81

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:09:27-00:09:32 (6 sec)
Let me turn to your son, Hunter Biden. He has written a memoir -- 82

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:09:32-00:09:33 (1 sec)
He has. 83

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:09:33-00:09:35 (2 sec)
-- to be published in April. So have you read it? 84

Joe Biden

Leans Positive
00:09:35-00:09:58 (23 sec)
So proud. I have. I've only gotten halfway through it. I'm so damn proud of him. He has enormous talent. He's a brilliant young man. I'll bet you there's not a family you know that didn't have somebody in the family who had a drug problem, or an alcohol problem, and he's gone through hell. I didn't even know it was being written until about a month and a half ago, and knew nothing about it 'til about five days ago. 85

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
00:09:58-00:10:21 (23 sec)
He thinks it's a way to help other people. I mean, this is a guy who when he's three years old, was pinned in the car with his dead sister and dead mother, his brother. But the honesty with which he stepped forward and talked about the problem and the hope that -- it gave me hope reading it. I mean it was like my boy's back. you know what I mean. 86

Joe Biden

Neutral
00:10:21-00:10:27 (6 sec)
He's -- anyway, I'm -- I'm sorry to get so personal. 87

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:10:27-00:10:42 (16 sec)
No, I ask the question, so thank you for answering it. Mr. President, you've certainly been around the White House for a long time. You've walked into the Oval Office, you were vice president for eight years. But did it feel a little different when you walked in as president the United States and sat down on the other side of the Resolute Desk? 88

Joe Biden

Unknown
00:10:42-00:10:51 (8 sec)
Um, you know when I felt different? When I walked through the front doors of the White House, um, after being sworn in. 89

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:10:51-00:10:53 (2 sec)
There was that picture of you em -- embracing -- 90

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
00:10:53-00:10:54 (1 sec)
Yeah. 91

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:10:54-00:10:55 (1 sec)
-- the first lady. 92

Joe Biden

Leans Positive
00:10:55-00:11:17 (23 sec)
Yeah. You know, President Clinton and I used to talk about how, who -- who's read the most biographies of presidents. He's probably read more than I, but I've read a lot of them, and I've always thought about presidents in terms of Abraham Lincoln up there, or, you know, Franklin Roosevelt or George Washington, and I thought to myself: how in God's name could I -- co -- can I, you know, do --compare myself to them? 93

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:11:17-00:11:44 (27 sec)
But then, I realized, I know eight presidents. I've served eight term. I know them. They're all really fine men, and you know their strengths and their weaknesses and it -- and it gave a little more of, well, you know, no I -- don't get me wrong, I think it's an incredibly challenging job, and I'm extremely flattered to have a chance to do it, and I hope to God I live up to it, but it seemed to make it more life size. 94

Note

Unknown
00:11:44-00:11:44 ( sec)
[Break in Interview] 95

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:11:44-00:11:50 (5 sec)
So, many people may not know that you were once a pretty good receiver yourself back in the day. 96

Joe Biden

Positive
00:11:50-00:11:56 (7 sec)
I had wild dreams. It wasn't to be president. I thought I could be a flanker back in the NFL. 97

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:11:56-00:12:05 (9 sec)
But as a former receiver, which quarterback would you rather have throw to you? Tom Brady or Mahomes? 98

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:12:05-00:12:14 (9 sec)
Obviously, Brady's a great quarterback. Mahomes seems like he's got a lot of potential, and so, I'd probably take a shot with the young guy I didn't expect as much from. 99

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:12:14-00:12:17 (2 sec)
You thinking the Kansas City Chiefs may win? 100

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:12:17-00:12:30 (13 sec)
Well, I didn't say that. I -- I don't know who's gonna win. I think they're both great quarterbacks. One is just a younger version, potentially, of an old, great quarterback. Not old. In NFL terms, old. [Laughs] 101

Note

Unknown
00:12:30-00:12:30 ( sec)
[Break in Interview] 102

Norah O'Donnell

Very Positive
00:12:30-00:12:33 (3 sec)
Mr. President, thank you for joining us. Enjoy the game. 103

Joe Biden

Very Positive
00:12:33-00:12:36 (3 sec)
Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. 104

Norah O'Donnell

Unknown
00:12:36-00:12:40 (5 sec)
I'm Norah O'Donnell, CBS News, The White House. 105