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President Obama: No Apologies, No Scolding for Joe Biden's Remark

08/15/2012 at 07:00 PM EDT

Obama on Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney Comment by Biden
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden
Chuck Kennedy/The White House/Getty
Vice President Joe Biden may have sparked the latest war of words in the presidential campaign, but he'll get no talking-to from the boss on this one. Just a small sigh – and a vote of confidence.

PEOPLE sat down with President Obama one day after Biden's remark to voters in Virginia on Tuesday – that GOP running mates Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan are "going to put y'all back in chains" – and asked the President if he'd spoken to Biden about the controversial comment.

"Joe Biden has been an outstanding vice president. He is passionate about what's happening in middle-class families," he said. "So I will be talking to him a whole lot about the campaign generally."

Biden's comment sparked Romney to call the Obama campaign one of "division and hate and anger." But Obama, speaking to PEOPLE in Dubuque, Iowa, seemed unrattled by the controversy. He said Biden's words needed to be considered in context; that he was only saying "you, consumers, the American people, will be a lot worse off if we repeal these [Wall Street reform] laws as the other side is suggesting."



"In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that," Obama added.

Pressed to say whether Biden's wording was unfortunate or something he's okay with, the president sighed. "The truth is that during the course of these campaigns, folks like to get obsessed with how something was phrased even if everybody personally understands that's not how it was meant," Obama said. "That's sort of the nature of modern campaigns and modern coverage of campaigns. But I tell you, when I'm traveling around Iowa, that's not what's on people's minds."

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