Former President Barack Obama is not publicly endorsing any candidate, including, most notably, his former vice president. But according to inside sources, he is quietly vouching for one of the frontrunners behind closed doors: anti-Wall Street Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Despite her repeated attacks on Wall Street, threats to extort “billionaire tears,” and disavowing big dollar fundraisers, Warren isn’t really the threat to the wealthy and Wall Street she appears to be, Obama has reportedly assured high-powered Democratic donors behind the scenes.
According to The Hill‘s Amie Parnes, in recent months, Obama “has gone to bat for Warren (Mass.) when speaking to donors reluctant to support her given her knocks on Wall Street and the wealthy.” If Warren should become the nominee, Obama urged the donors, “they must throw the entirety of their support behind her.”
“The former president has stopped short of an endorsement of Warren in these conversations and has emphasized that he is not endorsing in the Democratic race,” Parnes reports. “But he also has vouched for her credentials, making it clear in these private sessions that he deems her a capable candidate and potential president, sources say.”
“He’s asked all of the candidates who have sought his advice three questions: Is your family behind you? Why you? And why now? She checked the box for all,” said a “longtime Obama ally.”
Obama “feels licensed to give an opinion” about Warren, the source said, because he “hired” her in 2010 as a special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury, a role through which she helped install the much-maligned Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“He obviously thinks she’s very smart,” a Democratic donor told The Hill. “He thinks her policy ideas matter. And I think he sees her running the campaign with the most depth.”
Another Obama insider stressed that Obama would similarly defend and promote any of the other Democratic candidates.
After enjoying a brief surge in the polls in early fall, closing the gap or even surpassing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls in early October, Warren has lost momentum. Nearly all recent national polls show Warren having slipped back into third place behind Biden, who enjoys a double digit lead over the field in many polls, and democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT).
A recent CNN poll gives Biden 26 of the Democratic vote, Sanders 20, and Warren 16. An NBC News/WSJ survey shows Biden with 28, Sanders 21, and Warren 18. Emerson gives Biden 32, Sanders 25, and Warren just 12. In some polls, Biden’s support more than doubles that of Warren, including a recent survey by The Hill, which gives Biden 29 and both Sanders and Warren 13.
Obama’s refusal to endorse Biden has turned a lot of heads over the months, but Biden has insisted that he does not want his former boss’s help in winning the nomination. Shortly after Biden announced his run in spring, a spokeswoman for Obama addressed the announcement, but notably left out an official endorsement.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” said Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill in a statement. “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.”
As reported by USA Today, Biden later told reporters that he specifically asked Obama not to issue an endorsement of his candidacy. “I asked President Obama not to endorse,” said Biden. “Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”