A new report depicts a stark contrast between former President Barack Obama’s public praise of his former vice president and Obama’s private denigration of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The Politico report quoted one anonymous source as relating negative comments from the former president.
“Searing, anonymously sourced quotes from Obama kept appearing through the  race,” the outlet reported.
“One Democrat who spoke to Obama recalled the former president warning, ‘Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f— things up.'”
Politico previously reported that Obama told one 2020 Democratic presidential candidate: “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
But the trash talk goes both ways, according to Politico, which quoted Biden as having told aides after his South Carolina primary victory that Obama had not “lifted a finger” to assist him.
Leon Panetta, who served as secretary of defense during the Obama administration, suggested Biden feels loyalty has not always been a two-way street with Obama.
Biden “was loyal, I think, to Obama in every way in terms of defending and standing by him, even probably when he disagreed with what Obama was doing,” Panetta told Politico.
“To some extent, [he] oftentimes felt that that loyalty was not being rewarded,” he said.
Biden aides felt Obama’s support of Biden in 2020 was less glowing than his backing of Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to Politico.
“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,” Obama said about Clinton.
Of Biden, he said, “I believe Joe has all of the qualities we need in a president right now … and I know he will surround himself with good people.”
Biden seriously considered running for president in 2016, but it became apparent that Obama favored Clinton to succeed him, according to Politico.
“From early on, however, it became increasingly clear that Obama and many of his closest aides were helping along a Hillary Clinton succession,” Politico reported.
Bide has said that Obama didn’t want him to run because the then-vice president was mourning the death of his son, Beau, in 2015.
“But numerous administration veterans, including loyalists to both Obama and Biden, remember it differently: Obama had begun embracing Clinton as a possible successor years before Biden lost his son, while the vice president was laying the groundwork for his own campaign,” according to Politico.
Last year, The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, quoted Obama as telling Biden aides to be sure that the former vice president did not “embarrass himself” or “damage his legacy” during the 2020 campaign.
The Times report said Obama was almost pushing back against Biden’s planned candidacy early in 2019.
“You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Obama told Biden, according to the Times.
Privately, Obama has reportedly voiced concerns about Biden and his campaign leadership team.
Obama “has communicated his frustration that Mr. Biden’s closest advisers are too old and out of touch with the current political climate — urging him to include more younger aides, according to three Democrats with direct knowledge of the discussion,” The Times reported.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.