President Barack Obama reportedly took a swipe at his former vice president Joe Biden during a recent meeting with a Democratic presidential candidate, saying that Biden “really doesn’t have it” in establishing a bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa.
In the course of counseling an unnamed Democratic primary candidate, Obama emphasized the importance of connecting on a personal level with Iowa voters, drawing on the relationship he established with early primary state voters in 2008, and explaining that he “doesn’t have it” anymore because such a connection withers over time.
“And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden,” he went on to say, according to a lengthy Politico article that details Obama’s role in counseling the 2020 Democratic field.
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Recent polls published earlier this month show Biden slipping to fourth place in the Iowa primaries.
Obama, who has kept a relatively low profile in the 2020 presidential race, has privately offered advice to all willing candidates but the Politico piece details a particularly complicated relationship between Obama and Biden, including around a potential endorsement. During a 60 Minutes interview that aired in October, Biden claimed that he had “asked” Obama “not to” make an endorsement of his campaign, and said he thinks Obama believes “it’s better for me,” backing up comments he made in April.
“Look, everybody knows — I think everybody knows, we didn’t only serve together, but our families are close. We became very close personal friends . . . I didn’t want it to look like he was putting his thumb on the scale here. And that, you know, I’m gonna do this based on who I am, not by the president going out and trying to say, ‘This is the guy you should be with,’” Biden said during an interview on The View in April.
Obama has said that he didn’t endorse Biden because the former vice president would have to “earn” it, and that Biden’s campaign “has turned out the way they all feared,” according to Politico.
“The Biden thing is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in politics because the guy is up there in the air and everybody is just assuming he’s going to come down,” former Obama adviser David Axelrod said. “There is kind of a Mr. Magoo kind of quality to the whole thing but he’s still driving, you know? He’s still moving forward. You worry that he’s going to hit the wall at any given moment, but he hasn’t.”
The article also quotes a source close to Obama and Biden who says the “only time” Biden has been disappointed with Obama’s lack of support is over the silence on President Trump’s accusations against the Bidens for corruption in Ukraine.
“I do think there’s frustration when Joe Biden and Hunter Biden get attacked by Republicans on the Ukrainian thing and they say, ‘Obama and his administration looked the other way back when this was happening,’ and Obama doesn’t say anything,” the source said.” The Biden people ask, ‘Why won’t Obama say something?’”