SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that Arizona Sen. John McCain probably would have beat his boss in the 2008 presidential election had the economy not collapsed.
Biden's comment about McCain and President Barack Obama came during the opening dinner of an annual forum among the Red Rocks of Sedona in northern Arizona. He and McCain, a Republican, touched on the gun control debate following the Newtown shootings and the bombings in Boston, but made no mention of Syria. Just as the night came to a close, Biden turned to the grueling nature of presidential campaigns.
"The truth of the matter is, Barack knows it, I know, had the economy not collapsed around your ears, John, in the middle of literally — as things were moving — I think you probably would have won," Biden said. "But it would have been incredibly, incredibly, incredibly close. You inherited a really difficult time."
The forum is part of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, a program formed by McCain as a way to debate foreign affairs. This year's theme for the Sedona Forum is "How can we promote freedom and democracy effectively?"
Rather than a discussion between McCain and Biden, the two sat on stage together with McCain posing questions to his former Democratic adversary on gun control and whether background checks are necessary, human rights abuses at the hands of the United States and the recent bombings at the Boston marathon.
McCain and Biden both said that despite their disagreements, they've never lost respect for one another.
On gun control, Biden said it's never been a simple issue, but that Congress has miscalculated how deeply the public feels about it and has failed to stand up to groups like the National Rifle Association, particularly after the shootings in Newtown. He said the public is looking to Congress to be mature enough to figure out a way to diminish the chance it will happen again.
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