On December 4 2020, a number of pundits and websites breathlessly reported on remarks made by President-Elect Joe Biden, in which he purportedly said that if he fundamentally disagreed with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, he would “develop some disease” and resign his office:
????????: Biden Says If Kamala and I Disagree, ‘I’ll Develop Some Disease and Resign’ https://t.co/f9pigLjdPB
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) December 4, 2020
Fox News’ Sean Hannity shared an article on Hannity.com, and right-wing pundit Larry Elder shared video of Biden making the remarks:
Yo, @jaketapper, alleged reporter,
NO FOLLOW UP QUESTION ABOUT WHAT THE HELL BIDEN JUST SAID??? https://t.co/K1WLQuQX7M
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) December 4, 2020
The Blaze covered Biden’s remarks from an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper (“Biden on Harris: If we have a ‘fundamental disagreement,’ then ‘I’ll develop some disease and say I have to resign'”) quoting him as saying:
Appearing with Harris for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said that he would handle their disagreements in the same way that he handled disagreements with President Barack Obama when he served as vice president. If the two had ever had a “fundamental disagreement” on some major “moral principle,” Biden explained that he would have resigned under pretense of illness rather than continue serving under Obama, and said his relationship with Harris is similar.
“We are simpatico on our philosophy of government and simpatico on how we want to approach these issues that we are facing,” Biden told Tapper. “When we disagree, it’ll be just like — so far, it’s been just like when Barack and I did. It’s in private. She’ll say, ‘I think we should do A, B, C, or D,’ and I’ll say, ‘I like A, don’t like B and C. And let’s go, OK.'”
“And like I told Barack, if I reached something where there’s a fundamental disagreement we have based on a moral principle, I’ll develop some disease and say I have to resign,” Biden continued. “We don’t have that I’m — we haven’t — and we’ve discussed at length our views on foreign policy, on domestic policy, on intelligence.”
In that excerpt, Biden maintained that a “fundamental disagreement” regarding a crucial “moral issue” would have led him to resign as President Barack Obama’s Vice President. In the third paragraph, Biden was quoted as saying “like I told Barack … I’ll develop some disease and say I have to resign.”
Conservative outlet Daily Caller headlined their coverage of the comments “Biden Jokes About Faking An Illness And Resigning,” primarily highlighting the same quotes in the excerpt above. NotTheBee.com, sister-site to satire outlet Babylon Bee, posited that Biden’s comments had displeased Harris and alluded to a secret truth, feeding an existing and persistent conspiracy theory:
Kamala not only doesn’t laugh, but she also does her condescending head shake we saw so much during her debate with Mike Pence. She looks at Sleepy Joe in a disapproving manner as if to say “you better change topics NOW!”
Joe sees the look, is scared to death, probably thinks “oh crud! I gave the game away” and tries to recover. Biden mumbles and fumbles over what to say next until Kamala gives him the head nod, signaling that he’s back on the right track.
Watch it again, this is exactly what happens.
Kamala Harris, at that moment, is in complete control of Joe Biden. He knows he goofed. I’m not sure if this is more like a hostage situation or a child being scolded by his mother. Either way, it’s awkward, embarrassing, and also pretty hilarious.
If you ask me why Biden made this joke, it’s clearly an insurance policy. He’s seen the memes, he’s heard the jokes, he knows what everyone is thinking. They’re thinking that Kamala is just waiting for Biden to leave office so she can take the Presidency for herself. But you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to outsmart sleepy Joe! Or sleep in late, he’s usually back in bed by 10 AM (it’s a brief window). Anyways, Biden is a little too cunning for that, so he spoils that plan by joking about it on live TV.
Or he’s a confused and awkward old man who doesn’t know what’s going on.
Rush Limbaugh’s site published a transcript of Limbaugh’s commentary on Biden’s remarks, and he stated in part that “something is up”:
So in an interview on CNN with Democrat operative Jake Tapper, Joe Biden claimed that he once told Barack Hussein Obama that should the two of them have a fundamental disagreement on a moral principle, that he, Biden, would resign and claim illness. Why would Biden have to be the one resigning?
He’s the vice president. Who cares? Now, what would Sigmund Freud say about Biden bringing that up now? But he wasn’t through. Here’s audio sound bite number 1, another segment of the interview with Democrat operative Jake Tapper and Joe Biden on CNN last night [December 3 2020].
[Biden] would get some disease, claim illness, and resign if they have a fundamental disagreement. Why would he be the one to resign? That’s like when he was vice president. Why would he be the one to resign? He’s now president-elect, allegedly. Something’s up here. You know as well as I do.
Many other disinformation purveyors and far-right conspiracy theorists speculated strongly on the hidden meaning of Biden’s comments. Meanwhile, CNN provided a transcript of the interview, which included the entirety of Biden, Harris, and Tapper’s remarks:
BIDEN: But, all kidding aside, it’s a matter of, the thing, we are simpatico on our philosophy of government and simpatico on how we want to attach — approach these issues that we’re facing.
And so I don’t have — and when we disagree, it will be just like — so far, it has been just like when Barack and I did.
It’s in private. She’ll say, I think we should do A, B, C, or D, and I will say, I like A, don’t like B and C. And let’s go, OK.
But — and like I told Barack, if I reach something where there’s a fundamental disagreement we have based on a moral principle, I will develop some disease and say I have to resign.
Much of the focus on Biden’s remarks focused on the comments in the excerpt above. But immediately thereafter, Biden stated that he and Harris didn’t “have that,” “that” presumably being the “fundamental disagreement” he referenced just prior to finishing his statement:
We [Biden and Harris] don’t have that [fundamental disagreements] — I’m — we haven’t — and we discussed at length our views on foreign policy, on domestic policy, on intelligence. And the great thing is, she has a background in the Senate on intelligence, on the Intelligence Committee. She has a background in the Senate on a whole range of things that are going to be pertinent to what we have to do.
But it’s going to be — I think so much is going to be incoming, Jake.
BIDEN: It’s a matter about who takes what when.
In a CNN interview that aired December 3 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden said that when he was serving as Vice President of the United States, he told then-U.S. President Barack Obama that if they ever reached a major moral or fundamental disagreement, he (Biden) would “develop some disease” and resign — comments that fueled heated speculation that Biden planned to resign during his first term. But immediately thereafter, Biden said he and Harris “didn’t have that,” and agreed on major issues including “foreign policy,” “domestic policy,” and “intelligence.” In the complete context of the remarks, Biden affirmed that he and Harris had no fundamental disagreements on policy or morality.