Former President Barack Obama took the unusual step of making an endosement in a foreign election Wednesday, giving his unqualified support to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — but he still hasn’t endorsed his former Vice President, Joe Biden, for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
Obama made his official endorsement on Twitter.
“I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He’s a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term,” Obama wrote.
I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He's a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 16, 2019
The Canadian election is next Monday and so far, Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which holds a majority in Parliament now, is neck and neck with the Conservatives. If the Liberal Party doesn’t pull out a victory, Trudeau will lose his status as Prime Minister.
Canadian state television is predicting that neither party will win a majority and that whomever serves as Prime Minister will preside over a coalition government — something Justin Trudeau doesn’t necessarily want to do. His closest allies in the election are the New Democrats Party and the Green Party and both have taken shots at Trudeau in recent weeks as the election draws to a close.
Now Barack Obama, who has long been a friend and ally of Trudeau, both in office and out of it, is breaking one of his cardinal rules — not intervening in foreign affairs — and throwing his support behind the embattled leftist leader.
It’s not clear how this benefits Trudeau, since Obama’s word is largely a celebrity endorsement at this point, and it’s unknown how much cache Obama still has among Canadians. It may help Trudeau escape accusations that he’s insensitive to racial issues; late last month, photos surfaced of Trudeau dressed in black- and brown-face for parties that took place in the early 2000s. Trudeau apologized for the costumes, suggesting that he was young and did not know better, but had a hard time escaping the fact that black- and brown-face weren’t acceptable at any point in the twenty-first century.
Obama’s endorsement shows that Trudeau can still court knowledgeable, woke leftist icons, thus assuring voters that he remains a paragon of progressivism despite his checkered past. And it may be working; just hours after Obama endorsed Trudeau, the Liberal Party was making hay out of his Twitter, using it to fundraise.
— Rachel Aiello (@rachaiello) October 16, 2019
The person hardest hit by Obama’s endorsement won’t be Canadian Conservative Party leader, Andrew Scheer (he hasn’t even responded to Obama’s social media missive), but rather former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been an official contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination for at least six months and has yet to receive the stamp of approval from his former boss.
Back in April, when Biden first announced his official bid for the presidency, Obama issued some lukewarm praise for his former right-hand man, but stopped short of any formal endorsement (and the praise was issued through a spokesperson, not on Obama’s official Twitter feed).
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill told media in an email that day. “He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”
Another source told the Daily Beast at the time that Obama was actually keeping his options open and encouraging a robust primary process before making a formal declaration of support.
“President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” the Daily Beast reported the source as saying. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate, but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process—preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”
That’s rough for Joe, and even rougher now that he’s slipping in the polls and, reportedly, spending so much money he may not be able to sustain his campaign into next year.