Barack Obama is not a huge fan of his one-time partner, Joe Biden.
Obama, who hasn’t endorsed the 77-year-old former vice president in his race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, doesn’t think Biden has “it” — the essential “bond” with the electorate that Obama once had.
The former president has been meeting with hopefuls in his Washington, D.C., offices for months, Politico reported. One candidate he’s not impressed with is Biden.
“Ostensibly the meetings are for the aspiring candidates to gain some wisdom from the last Democrat to win an open presidential primary and the presidency, but they also allow Obama to collect his own intelligence about what he and his closest advisers have made clear is all that matters to him: who can beat Donald Trump,” Politico writes.
Sometimes he offers candid advice about his visitors’ strengths and weaknesses. With several lesser-known candidates, according to people who have talked to him or been briefed on his meetings, he was blunt about the challenges of breaking out of a large field. His advice is not always heeded. He told [former Massachusetts Gov. Deval] Patrick earlier this year that it was likely “too late” for him to secure “money and talent” if he jumped in the race. Occasionally, he can be cutting. With one candidate, he pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa, that he no longer has. Then he added, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
In an interesting twist, Biden has not been among the candidates who have met with Obama in his offices.
In April, when Biden announced he would be running for the Democratic nomination, Obama issued a statement through spokeswoman Katie Hill.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. 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,” the statement said.
The statement was notably lacking a formal endorsement.
Biden, though, said he had personally asked Obama not to issue an endorsement. “I asked President Obama not to endorse, and he doesn’t want to. Listen, we should — whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits,” he said when asked by reporters why Obama had not endorsed him.
The New York Times also reported that Obama quietly urged Biden not to run. “The two men spoke at least a half dozen times before Mr. Biden decided to run, and Mr. Obama took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms,” The Times wrote in a piece headlined “Obama’s and Biden’s Relationship Looks Rosy. It Wasn’t Always That Simple.”
“‘You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,’ Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the exchange.”
But Biden is still making sure people don’t forget his longtime bromance with Obama. In an Instagram post on the day he announced his candidacy, Biden included a snapshot of himself and Obama in the Oval Office.
President Trump in June claimed that it’s “rather a big secret” why Obama has not come out and endorsed his Biden.
“How he doesn’t get President Obama to endorse him — there has to be some reason why he’s not endorsing him,” Trump said outside the Oval Office in an exclusive interview with The Hill.