Fw: VPOTUS travel Pool Report #9 -- Embargo Broken. Full pool report of Colbert taping

From: Shear, Michael [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2015 07:30 PM
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP; Spector, Stephen I. EOP; Barkoff, Kendra A. EOP
Subject: VPOTUS travel Pool Report #9 -- Embargo Broken. Full pool report of Colbert taping

Here is my pool report of the Colbert taping with VPOTUS. Please check all quotes against the show when it airs. This was originally slated to go out at 11:35, but with the embargo broken, the WH says this can be released now.

Headlines: The show was incredibly emotional, with Colbert prodding VPOTUS to talk about Beau, about his religion, about tragedy, etc. There were a couple of jokes, but most of it was very serious. And several moments when VPOTUS directly addressed the idea of running for president, though not making any outright news.

Most significant moment, newswise:

"I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one,  they know exactly why they would want to be president and two, they can look at folks out there and say I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.

"And, and, I'd be lying if I said that i knew I was there. I'm being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are."

Full Report:

Your pool was escorted into the Ed Sullivan theater for the taping of the third Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The pool witnessed a funny warm up act, some music from the band and a few moments with Colbert in which he said he couldn't do a selfie with an audience member and VPOTUS because of the "secret service" in the room.

Colbert offered a funny monologue to start the show which featured surprise appearances by football legends like Joe Theisman and others. He noted during the opening that he was interviewing VPOTUS, but that if he didn't show up, the next on the list were the speaker of the house and the winner of American ninja warrior.

Colbert's first segment offered a funny riff on the political news of the day.

He noted that "With all the talk about this race, its easy to forget that we're 14 months way from election day" and "just 9 years away from the end of the Trump presidency."

He noted that Trump is so high up in the polls that he has "turned his own bar graph into luxury condos" and referred to a Frank Luntz focus group in which one man believed Trump because he wears a hat that says he would "Make America Great" again.

Colbert showed a picture of all the Republican candidates and pointed to a picture of Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, and challenged a woman in the audience to name him. She couldn't.

That led to a bit about hats that candidate should wear. He suggested that Rick Perry wear a 10-gallon had emblazoned with the word "oops" and said Hillary Clinton has a had that "completely explains her email scandal but unfortunately she erased it." He said that Jim Gilmore, who is polling at 0 percent, should just wear a hat that says "I am Jim Gilmore."

The interview started a bit auspiciously when VPOTUS's mic wasn't working. That led to some funny moments as the techs worked on his mic.

Colbert joe to the audience that "I want to thank you for being here for my last show.  Almost made it to Friday."

VPOTUS added: "By the way, they do this to me at the White House all the time. Shut my mic off."

When they started again, Colbert got serious very quickly, suggesting that everyone likes Joe Biden because "we think that we're actually seeing the real Joe Biden. You're not a politician who's created some facade."

Colbert asked how VPOTUS maintained his "soul" in a city like Washington, which prompted VPOTUS to say "why in the world would you want the job if you couldn't say what you believe. If you're going to run, you're running for a reason. If you can't state why you want the job, there's a lot more lucrative opportunities other places."

For context, it was your pooler's opinion that VPOTUS wasn't directly talking about the possibility of running for the presidency right then. But it was a bit hard to tell for sure.

Then Colbert got very serious, saying that people are inspired by the way VPOTUS has handled tragedies. Colbert offered his deep condolences on the death of Beau Biden and asked VPOTUS to tell a story about him.

VPOTUS repeated what he's said before, about an expression that his dad used to say about how you know you are a success as a parent when your child ends up better than you.

"I was a hell of a success. My son was better than me. he was better than me in every way." He went on to say that his dad also said: "Never complain and never explain" and that VPOTUS had never heard Beau complain. "I never once, my word as a Biden, never ever heard my child complain."

VPOTUS recalled a time a few months before Beau died, when Beau said to him "Dad, I know how much you love me. Promise me you're going to be all right."

VPOTUS choked up several times during his talks about his son, though your pooler was far away in the studio and couldn't really tell if there were any tears. Several times, VPOTUS noted that he felt embarrassed about all the attention to his loss that people have given him.

"It's a little embarrassing. So many people who have losses as severe or maybe worse than mine and don't have the support I have."

Later, he added: "I feel self conscious. The loss is serious and it's consequential but there are so many other people going through this."

Colbert asked about VPOTUS's faith and whether that has helped him get through the tragedy in his life. VPOTUS recalled that his wife often tapes notes for him on the bathroom mirror and once put up a note from Kierkegaard, the philosopher, which said: "Faith sees best in the dark."

That prompted long remarks from VPOTUS about how his religion is an "enormous sense of solace," attributing some of it to the rituals of the Catholic religion.

"I go to mass and I'm able to be just alone, even in a crowd," VPOTUS said.

He noted that he often counts his rosary beads and said that his faith "takes everything about my life -- my parents, my siblings and all the good things" and reminds him of his religion.

"It's just a place you can go," VPOTUS said.

VPOTUS again got emotional when Colbert noted that people are inspired by VPOTUS because they see he has suffered and yet "seem to have made some beautiful things" and dedicated himself to a life of service.

VPOTUS mentioned another expression from his mother: "As long as you are alive you have an obligation to strive and you're not dead until you see the face of God."

"No one owes you anything. You gotta get up. And I feel like I was letting down Beau, letting down my parents, letting down my family if i didn't just get up."

"I marvel at the ability of people who absorb hurt and just get back up," VPOTUS said. He then mentioned that Colbert is one of those people, noting the tragedy that struck Colbert when his father and two brothers were killed in an airplane crash.

"You're one of them old buddy. Losing your dad when you're a kid. It's like asking what made your mother do it every day?"

Colbert interjected: "She had to take care of me."

And VPOTUS observed: "I imagine that would be a hell of a job."

VPOTUS talked a bit more about his sons, Beau and Hunter and how they were always focused on taking care of him, not the other way around.

Colbert ended the first segment by saying: "When we come back, we will find out a little more about who Joe Biden is."

VPOTUS quipped: "I think its time for me to leave."

The second segment started a bit funny, with Colbert asking: "I want to give your office the respect it deserves? How much is that?"

But VPOTUS kept it serious, nothing that while there is "no inherent power in the vice presidency" that the authority a vice president wields "is directly a reflection of your relationship with the president. Everyone knows that you have his back and you have his confidence."

He noted that when he was campaigning in 2008 for the presidency, he was in many debates and that "the only two people who didn't disagree on policy were Barack and me."

Colbert finally got around to the main question by noting that there is one job that being vice president preps you for.

"Chief of Staff," VPOTUS quipped.

Colbert said: "I want to talk about the elephant in the room, which in this case is a donkey. Do you have anything to tell us about your plans?"

VPOTUS said "yes," and then added: "I think you should run for press again and ill be your vice president."

Then Colbert turned emotional again, asking him if he was emotionally prepared.

VPOTUS replied in a long soliloquy:

"I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one,  they know exactly why they would want to be president and two, they can look at folks out there and say I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion.

"And, and, I'd be lying if I said that i knew I was there. I'm being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are."

"I'm optimistic. I'm positive about where were going.  But I find myself...you understand, sometimes it just sort of overwhelms you. I can't..."

He then told a story about greeting members of the military and their families at a rope line in Denver. He said he broke down after one of the members of the military yelled out about Beau."

"It was going great. All of a sudden,  guy in the back yells. Major Beau Biden. Bronze star, sir. Served with him in Iraq. I lost it. How can you? That's not. You can't do that."

VPOTUS then talked more about Beau not wanting anything special while he served in Iraq. He said he was "not unique," noting that there have been many other people who served as selflessly.

But he added: "He abhorred people who had a sense of entitlement and he went the other way. "

Colbert wrapped up the emotional interview by saying that "It's going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don't run. Your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race."

Michael D. Shear
White House Correspondent
The New York Times
xxx@email.com
xxx-xxx-xxxx

Show Comments