Biden: Economy kept McCain from victory over Obama

By FELICIA FONSECA | April 27, 2013 | 1:33 AM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shake hands after their conversation at the McCain Institute for International Leadership‘s 2013 Sedona Forum on Friday, April 26, 2013 at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz. The institute focuses on foreign-policy and national-security issues. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES

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 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.