Obama Feared Biden Was ‘Tragicomic Caricature Of An Aging Politician Having His Last Hurrah’: Book
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden share a laugh as the US Senior Men's National Team and Brazil play during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on July 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In April 2020, when Joe Biden announced he was running for president, former President Barack Obama issued a statement.

“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.

Notably absent was his endorsement of Biden, who had served as Obama’s vice president for eight years.

Now a new book gives some insight into their relationship.

The book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency,’’ by Jonathan Allen, a senior political analyst for NBC News, and Amie Parnes, a senior correspondent with The Hill, says Obama refused to support Biden because he feared he was a “tragicomic caricature of an aging politician having his last hurrah.”

Allen and Parnes write that Obama didn’t endorse his former veep because he “seemed to be enamored with a former Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke.”

“For many Democrats, Biden simply seemed unsuited for a modern campaign. Obama’s allies sometimes explained the former president’s reluctance to bless Biden’s candidacy as fear that Biden would dishonor himself with a bad campaign,” the write.

But he feared an even worse outcome.

“Obama worried that his former vice president would embarrass himself on the campaign trail and that the people around him would not be able to prevent a belly-flop. He wanted reassurance that Biden’s legacy would be protected.”

The book says Biden did almost everything wrong during his campaign, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to “hide his biggest weakness, which is himself.”

Biden spent much of the campaign in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, holding far fewer events than President Donald Trump. One Biden aide told the authors that the strategy was tantamount to “You put your dumb uncle in the basement.”

And top Biden adviser Anita Dunn said that “Covid was the best thing that happened to him.”

One Trump adviser told the authors that Team Biden “used coronavirus as an excuse to keep him in the basement, and it was smart. Biden was able to hide his biggest weakness, which is himself. And he did it with an excuse that sounded responsible.”

Allen and Parnes write that Biden was able to overcome three early losses in the primaries and win the nomination because he was a safe choice, even though supporters were not enthusiastic about him. Democrats “weren’t willing to take a chance” on a newcomer who might not win against Trump.

“Everything else, he’d gotten wrong. He’d run a lousy campaign, flubbed debates, spent so much money on Iowa and New Hampshire that he teetered on the edge of insolvency, lost three straight states to start the primary, and allowed himself to be defined by his frailties,” they write, noting that he ran on a “bland message and a blank agenda.”

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