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Biden: 'Coons is going to surprise'

From NBC's Mark Murray
In a wide-ranging interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Vice President Biden discussed the administration's budget, the stimulus, health care, and even his Oscar pick for "Best Picture."

Yet perhaps the biggest news in the interview was when he said political prognosticators were quick to write off the Democrats' chances of holding on to his old Senate seat after his son Beau said he wouldn't run -- a decision Biden said was made over Thanksgiving.

"We have a first-rate candidate now," Biden said. "We have a county executive, a young guy named Chris Coons who has two graduate degrees... The fact of the matter is that I predict to you that Chris Coons is going to surprise the devil out of them."

Most political handicappers believe that GOP Congressman Mike Castle is the favorite to win the seat. Coons has yet to officially enter the Senate race, but was reported last week saying he was "leaning" toward a run.

Also in the interview, Biden maintained that health care's prospects for passage aren't dead ("We don't believe this is over yet"); predicted positive and sustained job growth by the spring ("You're going to see jobs being created"); and dismissed bipartisan attempts to stop the administration from trying 9/11 terrorist suspects in civilian court ("Right after 9/11, about a month after 9/11, Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane just like the Christmas bomber... And they read him his Miranda Rights, tried him in civilian court").

And Biden predicted that "Avatar" would won win "Best Picture," although he had a little trouble remembering the film's title.

Biden: And I think one of the odds-on favorites, Jill didn't do with me, is this new program that I looked at and I wish I was seeing it in 3-D and you sit there and you watch this science fiction thing unfold in front of you.

MS. MITCHELL: "Avatar?"

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: "Avatar." The magic of it is kind of overwhelming. There are some other real good ones out there, but I predict "Avatar" will win.

MS. MITCHELL: All right. We'll hold you to that.