Obama demonstrates support for Biden after criticism in Gates book

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is making it clear that he doesn't plan to distance himself from his vice president -- even though Joe Biden came in for some harsh criticism in a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The National Security Council has issued a statement saying that Obama relies on Biden's "good counsel" every day and considers him "one of the leading statesmen of his time." And the White House issued a highly unusual invitation today for news organizations to photograph Obama and Biden sitting together at their weekly private luncheon.

In his book, Gates wrote that Biden is "a man of integrity," but that he has been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

Gates also accuses Obama of showing too little enthusiasm for the U.S. war mission in Afghanistan. He writes, "I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for the mission."

Former senior White House adviser David Axelrod says he was surprised when he heard about the book. Axelrod told NBC's "Today" show that Gates has "always indicated he had a good working relationship with the president."

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251-c-18-(Ed Donahue, AP correspondent)-"the White House"-AP correspondent Ed Donahue reports Robert Gates has strong opinions about President Obama in his book. (7 Jan 2014)

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250-c-18-(Ed Donahue, AP correspondent)-"president's own leadership"-AP correspondent Ed Donahue reports Robert Gates is critical of the president and vice president in his book. (7 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *250 (01/07/14)££ 00:18 "president's own leadership"

249-v-34-(Ed Donahue, AP correspondent)--In his new memoir, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Obama grew frustrated over Afghanistan. The AP's Ed Donahue reports. (7 Jan 2014)

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GRAPHICSBANK: Robert Gates, former US Secretary of Defense, during CBS "Face the Nation" interview, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, CBS News photo, graphic element on black (7 Jan 2014)

APPHOTO WX108: FILE - In this April 28. 2011 file photo, President Barack Obama stands in the East Room of the White House in Washington with, from left: Vice President Joe Biden and outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The White House is bristling over former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir accusing President Barack Obama of showing too little enthusiasm for the U.S. war mission in Afghanistan and sharply criticizing Vice President Joe Biden's foreign policy instincts. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (28 Apr 2011)

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APPHOTO WX120: FILE - In this June 15, 2011, file photo, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testifies regarding the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2012 budget request before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gates asserts in a new memoir that President Barack Obama grew frustrated with U.S. policy in Afghanistan and that Vice President Joe Biden has been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue. He also accuses members of Congress of inquisition-like treatment of administration officials. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) (15 Jun 2011)

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