The White House is downplaying remarks Vice President Joe Biden made Thursday about a possible war in Iran or a collapse in Europe’s economy threatening President Obama’s reelection hopes in November.
En route to a campaign fundraising events in Vermont, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that he had not seen the full context of Mr. Biden’s remarks, but noted that other senior administration officials and other campaign officials have said it’s not uncommon for outside events to influence elections.
“My guess is what the vice president was referring to is any series of outside events that could have an impact to some degree or another on the election,” Mr. Earnest said, according to a pool report of his briefing.
During a campaign events in Chicago Thursday, Mr. Biden told donors he wasn’t worried about the strength of any of the GOP candidates running against Mr. Obama, but feared outside events beyond the administration’s control, such as a military conflict in the Persian Gulf or a more severe economic crisis in Europe.
“I don’t think we’ll be beaten by those candidates,” Mr. Biden said. “I think we’ll be beaten — if we are — by something happening in the Eurozone or something happening in the Gulf, which could be difficult for us, or this barrage of super PAC money. But even with that, I feel good,” Mr. Biden said.
Israel’s threats to launch a preemptive strike on Iran over its its nuclear programs are a chief concern for the Obama administration, which has tried to persuade Israel to allow more time for diplomacy.
The president is facing a Friday close-of-business deadline to determine whether there will be enough oil in world markets to allow countries to cut imports from Iran. A sanctions law Mr. Obama signed in December gives him until March 30 to determine whether the price and supply of non-Iranian oil are enough to allow countries to cut off their purchases.
During his briefing with reporters Friday, Mr. Earnest said the White House would make a Iran-sanctions-related announcement later in the day.