Former Vice President Joe Biden can’t catch a break from his onetime boss, former President Barack Obama, and now, “hundreds” of Obama Administration and Obama campaign alumni have signed a letter making an official presidential endorsement — but they’re endorsing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The petition, led by Sara El-Amine, Obama’s 2012 national campaign director, and Jon Carson, Obama’s 2008 campaign field director, already has at least 200 signatures from former Obama administraiton and campaign aides, including “Robert Ford, ex-US ambassador to Syria, and Sean Carroll, a former senior official at USAID, per CNN.
El-Amine told the network that she’s proud of the “diversity” of the signatories, particularly given that they come from the “diverse” Obama Administration, and represent a cross-section of potential voters and campaign volunteers. She noted that the group selected Warren for her “electability” and her “vision,” though both have been called into question in recent days.
“We are a group that really uniquely knows that electability is self-determining and that oftentimes it’s the people with the boldest vision and the most unlikely candidacies early on who can really shift the field,” El-Amine told CNN in an interview. “Sen. Warren really has the zest and the grit and the gumption and the audacity that we loved that President Obama really embodied.”
This is certainly good news for Warren, who, El-Amine points out, is also an Obama alum, having worked on the former president’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it was first announced, as an “economic policy expert” (she would later capitalize on this cozy relationship with the White House during her first run for Senate, in 2012. She needs all the help she can get after sliding more than ten points in the polls since late October, putting her at a distinct disadvantage heading into the first primaries.
The former president himself isn’t among the 200 signatories, but Obama has stubbornly refused to endorse his former Vice President, preferring, instead, to sit on the sidelines of the Democratic primary. Biden told reporters just a few weeks ago that he “doesn’t need” Obama’s endorsement and that he specifically asked the former president not to come out in support of his campaign.
“[E]veryone knows I’m close with him,” Biden told reporters then, according to Politico. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
But don’t feel too sorry for Joe Biden just yet. If the former president is pulling the strings on this petition it’s probably not so much a slight on Joe as it is an overt message to the Democratic National Committee: please, please don’t nominate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Although Obama has hemmed and hawed about an endorsement, he’s been clear on at least one thing when it comes to the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination: the party should consider who is the best possible candidate to challenge President Donald Trump, and that means shying away from anyone with a fully progressive platform, even if that person seems popular with the most vocal segment of the Democratic base. Obama has repeatedly, in his public appearances, cautioned against moving the Democratic party too far leftward, and it’s gotten under the skin of “Democratic socialists,” including Bernie Sanders supporters.
Obama knows what the left is loathe to admit — that the progressive politics of Sanders aren’t palatable to most voters. At least Warren, he may figure, can cut somewhere in the middle, between the moderate politics of his former vice president and the far-left lunacy of Sanders.