WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden, preparing for a possible presidential bid, on Tuesday sought to shield himself from potential criticism by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by saying he had supported the raid that killed former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Biden, who has said previously he advised President Barack Obama against approving the raid without making an additional attempt to verify bin Laden was present at the compound where he was eventually found, said on Monday he told the president privately to proceed.
"As we walked out of the room and walked upstairs, I said - I told him my opinion that I thought he should go, but follow his own instincts," Biden told an event at the George Washington University.
"I never ... say what I think finally until I go up in the Oval (Office) with him alone.”
Obama has said previously that Biden was not in favor of the raid on the compound in Pakistan that became one of the Democratic president's top foreign policy achievements. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, has highlighted her support for the raid.
Biden, who has been mulling a run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, also fit in a dig at Clinton's remarks about Republicans being enemies.
"I don't think my chief enemy is the Republican party. This is a matter of making things work," Biden said.
Clinton's strong performance at last week's debate between Democratic presidential candidates has led some observers to conclude that Biden has waited too long to jump into the race, despite her struggles to control a controversy over her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
The White House declined to weigh in on whether Biden had changed his story about his position on the bin Laden move.
"I was not in the room when these decisions were being made or when the president was consulting his advisers about this very difficult foreign policy call that he made," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"I don't have any insight to share with you about the private conversations between the president and the vice president.
Biden has said previously that he urged Obama to follow his instincts on the matter.
(Reporting by Alana Wise and Jeff Mason; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)