12/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Biden's Role Still Unclear: No Defined Portfolio Yet

WASHINGTON - The day before Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s birthday last week, Barack Obama surprised him after lunch with candlelighted cupcakes. Within hours, the photograph of the president-elect and his running mate, smiling over the dessert, was on the evening news.

The photograph, circulated by Mr. Obama's office, was meant to project unity, confidence and camaraderie. But while Mr. Obama has moved quickly to assemble his White House staff and the beginnings of a cabinet, he is lagging behind even the chronically late President Bill Clinton in bringing clarity to the role his vice president will play.

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