TODAY   |  December 01, 2011

Biden tears up discussing Iraq casualties

Vice President Joe Biden talks to TODAY’s Ann Curry about the war in Iraq as he wraps up his final visit to the war-torn country before the U.S. military’s withdrawal at the end of the year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> biden is wrapping up his final visit to iraq before the u.s. military withdrawal at the end of this year. ann traveled to baghdad with the vice president and sat down with him for an exclusive interview.

>> reporter: how secure can iraq really be when you, as a vice president, still must arrive under the cloak of darkness, under heavy security?

>> there still are concerns here in iraq but if you take a look at it, ann , violence is down to an all-time low, all the way back to 2002 . we're in a situation where it's been that way for the last year and a half, but there are still the one-off jobs that can occur.

>> there was one just this morning.

>> yes.

>> car bomb with casualties.

>> right. and, you know, also there are car bombs in europe. there are car bombs throughout the middle east . there's car bombs -- i mean, it is -- but the idea that there is a sufficient capacity to bring down this government, to fundamentally alter this democratic process that's under way, that no longer exists.

>> reporter: do you worry that in the rush to fulfill a campaign promise, the obama administration is pulling out of iraq too soon?

>> this is no rush, ann . eight years. this is no rush. over 4,500 dead, 30,000 wounded. this is no rush. it's three years since we took office almost. we've done this in a way that no one thought could be done. 144,000 troops when we took office. now in a position with highly trained iraqi military , training their police force . this is no rush.

>> in a war that was started to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction that were never found, can the united states claim victory?

>> we're not claiming victory. what we're claiming here is that we've done the job our administration set out to do, to end the war we did not start, to end it in a responsible way, to bring americans home, to end the le bleeding both financially and physically that this war has caused, and to leave in place the prospect of a trained military, a trained security force , under democratic institutions, where the disparate parties are, for the first time, in generations, actually working together. it's not done yet, but there is real hope.

>> reporter: what is to prevent iran from moving in as the u.s. moves out?

>> there is no possibility of them having the capacity without the world reacting -- not just the united states -- the world reacting -- if all of a sudden iran was to move across its border and invade any other countries in the region.

>> you said in your senate farewell speech , quote, personal relationships is the one thing that unlocks the true potential of this place.

>> i believe that.

>> reporter: has president obama done enough? has he been effective in creating the personal relationships required to lead this country?

>> he has tried very, very hard. he's tried repeatedly with the speaker. he has tried with the leaders in the united states senate . he meets regularly with the leadership of both. i think most of my republican colleagues would say and have said that i have strong personal relationships with them. and yet nothing has moved. and the reason is, this is not your father's republican party . the republican party is sort of trying to find its soul. so i don't think it's personal relationships. i think it's the ability to get a consensus in the republican party through the republican leadership.

>> you have not yet closed the door on 2016 . are you ready to do that today? are you running for president?

>> i am never ready to close the door on anything. that is a foolish thing to do. i learned a long time ago. my dad had an expression. he said, joe, remember, never argue with your wife about anything that is going to happen more than a year from now, and don't make decisions about anything that is going to happen more than a year from now. i am intent on re-electing barack obama president of the united states of america . the rest will take care of itself.

>> reporter: when you look in your son's face, a young man who served in this country, served for the united states in its war in iraq , and you go back to him representing all of the thousands of young men and women who have risked their lives, died, lost their friends, what do you say?

>> first of all, i say, i'm so damn proud of you. i am so incredibly proud of him and these kids, and i say it mattered. they straightened out a situation that they inherited. they did it in a way that this is in my view the greatest generation . this isn't the x generation. this is the exceptional generation. they are amazing. you know, when bo came home after a year, obviously there was an overwhelming sense of joy and relief, but there was this -- all i could think of was those fallen angels whose parents were in dover to recover their child. i'm sorry. this -- anyway, i say to them, be proud of what you did for your country, be proud of the example you showed the world, and, most of all, be proud of how you protected your fellow soldiers.