Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leaning hard on the Obama connection as Election Day closes in.
According to CNN, former President Barack Obama will make his first in-person appearance of the 2020 presidential election cycle Wednesday night, taking the stump for his two-time running mate during a drive-up Biden campaign rally in Philadelphia.
One of many swing state appearances now scheduled for Obama in the closing weeks of the cycle, the event comes with Biden leading by a large margin in the national polling aggregates, but unable to match the campaign energy of incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.
“Former presidents tend not to delve too deeply into politics and certainly not the politics of their successors,” longtime Obama adviser David Axelrod said.
“I think that was his plan, but Trump changed that plan.”
Obama delivered his final pitch for Clinton here the night before Election Day in 2016. pic.twitter.com/PyROYmRdNG
— Allie Raffa (@AllieRaffa) October 21, 2020
Obama was slow to weigh in on the year’s Democratic presidential primary bout, declining to endorse Biden until after high-profile opponents like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders officially closed up shop at their campaign headquarters in the spring.
That hesitance has remained a point of concern among progressives and undecided voters alike — particularly in light of reports suggesting Obama initially voiced opposition to a run from his former vice president in private.
Biden repeatedly dismissed any such concern throughout 2019, telling various sources he had requested that Obama let him win or lose his primary on the merits without the shadow an endorsement might cast.
In response to renewed questions regarding a lack of campaign involvement from Obama following his official endorsement, however, Biden told reporters last week that his former commander in chief was, in fact, gearing up for a last-second push in the major battlegrounds.
“He’s doing enough for our campaign,” Biden said. “He’ll be out on the trail and he’s doing well.”
Joe Biden on President Obama: “He’s been doing enough for our campaign. He’ll be out on the trail.” pic.twitter.com/Q2OJtZPkDM
— The Hill (@thehill) October 13, 2020
Axelrod told CNN the late-game deployment of Obama was a good strategic decision, allowing Biden to stand on his own while also serving to mobilize diverse voting blocs in crunch time.
“In terms of his value, it’s been smart not to overuse him,” the adviser said.
“They’ve been using him in targeted digital appeals to constituencies that Democrats need to arouse in this election: young people and people of color, who did not come out in the numbers that Hillary Clinton had hoped four years ago.”
Over the course of a 20-year career spanning state and national politics, Obama has only ever lost a single election bid, according to NPR.
His campaign efforts on the part of fellow Democratic candidates, however, have a spotty record. The former president’s support on the stump did little for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 and failed to maintain or protect an allied Congress in 2010 and 2014.
One of the most inspiring things about this year has been seeing so many young people organizing, marching, and fighting for change. And to change the game on any of the issues we care about, we’ve got to vote for @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. pic.twitter.com/vfHnP4XPxK
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 21, 2020
Regardless of the potential result, Trump allies and campaign operatives have seized on the mobilization of Obama as a sign of “desperation” across the aisle.
“I think it does show desperation,” Trump Victory spokesperson Keith Schipper told The Western Journal in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It also shows that Joe Biden is not looking to go out and make his case to voters because he knows that we’ve all seen just how poorly he does that.”
“He’s been hiding in his basement in Delaware all week but I think, at the end of the day, what voters are going to be reminded of is exactly the case the president’s been making — which is, we all experienced the economy during the Obama-Biden years,” he added.
“If Barack Obama wants to go out and make that case for the president, by all means. I think that’s something that voters should be reminded of every day from now to the election is who do we trust to get the economy roaring again.”
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh spoke similarly that morning, claiming in a news release that the Obama appearances would not move the needle on Election Day.
“Joe Biden is clearly not up to the rigors of campaigning for president, so he’s calling in Barack Obama as a reinforcement,” Murtaugh said.
“Obama can’t help Biden defend his own record of putting foreign interests ahead of working Americans in bad trade policies, crushing our energy jobs under massive regulations, killing manufacturing jobs, and refusing to enforce our borders.”
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