WASHINGTON - Americans who petitioned the White House to give Vice President Joe Biden his own reality TV show may be getting the next-best thing.
The White House on Thursday launched an audio series to give Americans the sense they're along for the ride for some of Biden's behind-the-scenes moments.
Dubbed "Being Biden," the series features photographs of Biden from events that aren't part of his public schedule. Viewers can listen to Biden narrate the story behind the photos, curated by White House staffers to give the public a look at his life inside the Obama administration.
It's an idea not terribly far removed from what thousands of Americans requested earlier this year when they signed a White House petition to give the freewheeling, often unscripted vice president a recurring show on C-SPAN - "a glimpse of the lighthearted side of politics even in the midst of contentious and divisive national debates." The petition didn't cross the 100,000-name threshold required for a White House response in the time allotted, and it was later removed from the White House website.
With "Being Biden," the Obama administration can capitalize on Biden's ability to connect viscerally with Americans without the risk of an impromptu moment that could go awry. The series uses official photos from White House photographers, allowing the administration to engage Americans directly through social media without relying on the mainstream media to get their message out.
The vice president's office said new episodes will be released regularly, and said the idea stemmed from the regular radio-style addresses Biden would record for constituents when he served in the Senate.
The first installment, released Thursday, demonstrates the usefulness of such a medium to connect the everyday experiences of Americans to the issues Biden and President Barack Obama are promoting in Washington.
A photo shows Biden, in a black kitchen apron and brown baseball cap, serving dinner rolls earlier in March at the annual charity event and wild game dinner held by the Whitehall Neck Sportsman Club, a hunting group in Biden's home state of Delaware.
"They believe that there is a Second Amendment right to own a weapon. So do I," Biden says in the accompanying narration. "But they also believe that it's for self-protection and legitimate uses like hunting. And these guys have the ethic, an ethic that I find most sportsmen have, one that demands responsibility in terms of, in their case, how you deal with, treat and store your weapons."
Biden then discusses last year's Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings and calls on Congress to pass the gun-control measures that he and Obama are pushing.
George Wilson, the hunting group's president, said the subject of gun control never came up at the dinner, which Biden said he's been attending for three decades. But Wilson said he wasn't bothered that Biden was using a photo from the event to make the case for gun control.
"Everybody around here that I've talked to is in favor of it - especially background checks," Wilson said in an interview. "If a bunch of farmers come have a little dinner and the vice president shows up, it's a damn honor."