Biden Says He Once Told Putin: ‘I Don’t Think You Have A Soul’

ASSOCIATED PRESS

As a general rule, Joe Biden interviews are typically good for at least one quote that will fill up your Twitter feed for hours after the story drops.

In that regard, the just-released profile of the vice president by the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos doesn’t disappoint. The piece includes a bewitching account of a 2011 meeting between Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

To illustrate his emphasis on personality as a factor in foreign affairs, Biden recalled visiting Putin at the Kremlin in 2011: “I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him.” Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. “I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’ ”

“You said that?” I asked. It sounded like a movie line.

“Absolutely, positively,” Biden said, and continued, “And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’ ” Biden sat back, and said, “This is who this guy is!”

Biden’s remark was, of course, a reference to George W. Bush, who once said he looked in Putin’s eye and was “able to get a sense of his soul.”

It’s a pretty amusing story, for sure, but in the annals of great interactions between Putin and American politicians, it’s got nothing on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) arm wrestling showdown with the Russian autocrat.

“And he’s a little guy but boy I tell ya — he put me down in a millisecond,” Rohrabacher said of Putin last year. “He is tough! He just – muscles were just unbelievable.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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