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Obama gives more support for Biden after book claims

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WASHINGTON (KNOE 8 News/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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