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.

On gun control, Biden said it’s never been a simple issue, but that Congress has miscalculated how deeply the public feels about it and has failed to stand up to groups like the National Rifle Association, particularly after the shootings in Newtown. He said the public is looking to Congress to be mature enough to figure out a way to diminish the chance it will happen again.

“For the first time ever, you have people who are for gun safety, for increasing background checks,” Biden said. “Two out of three of them say it will be a major determining factor in how I vote. That’s the political dynamic that has changed. So I think we’re going to get this anyway. I think this will pass before the year is out, within this Congress.”

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