When former President Barack Obama met with potential donors 13 months before the presidential election, he touted one candidate above the rest — and it wasn’t his former vice president, according to a new report.
The Hill on Friday published an exclusive excerpt from the book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency,” by Amie Parnes of The Hill and Jonathan Allen of NBC.
The excerpt claims Obama lavished praise upon Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts during a meeting with about 40 black donors from the private sector.
The book said that at that time, the vast Democratic pool had four main contenders — Warren, then-former Vice President Joe Biden, then-Sen. Kamala Harris of California and then-Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.
The excerpt said Obama had a “singular message that he had wanted to deliver. He embraced the prospect of a Warren presidency” and urged donors to back her.
At that point, Warren was rising in the polls.
“The biggest obstacle to her success, it seemed, was convincing the establishment that she was truly different from Bernie, enough of a mainstream politician to be trusted with the reins of government. Now Obama was making that case for her,” the excerpt said.
Obama reportedly explained, “He knew Elizabeth, he said, very well. They had intersected during his time at Harvard, and then again during his time in the Senate where she often testified as an expert witness. He’d also ‘hired’ her to stand up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
“‘Many candidates like the idea of being president,’” the book quotes Obama as saying. “But few really have a ‘why.’”
“So what if she raises your taxes a little bit? Compare that to what we have now,” the excerpt further quoted him, adding that he wanted donors with deep pockets to be all-in behind Warren.
“Now, this is not an endorsement!” Obama reportedly said, the narrative adding that “He’d just given his seal of approval to Warren without using the ‘e’ word.”
The excerpt quoted “one donor in the room” as saying Obama’s talk “was a ninety percent Warren sermon.”
Buttigieg was disparaged, according to the excerpt, which quoted Obama as saying the now-transportation secretary “is 38, but he looks 30.”
“He’s the mayor of a small town,” Obama reportedly continued, adding, “He’s gay … and he’s short.”
Obama said he knew Harris but offered no assessment of her, according to the excerpt.
He was then reminded of one other candidate.
“You forgot Biden,” one meeting attendee reportedly said.
“Obama seemed apprehensive, according to a source in the room,” the excerpt said, reporting the former president’s “support for Biden was tepid at best.”
“At that point, it didn’t matter what [Obama] said about Biden. His silence spoke for him,” the excerpt concluded.
“Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency” is currently available for pre-order and is set to be released on March 2.
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