According to Ryan Lizza of Politico, Barack Obama has told 2020 Democrats that he doesn’t have faith in Joe Biden’s ability to connect with voters.
Barack Obama has met with most of the 2020 Democratic primary candidates at his D.C. office, and offering them advice on how to win.
“Sometimes he offers candid advice about his visitors’ strengths and weaknesses. With several lesser-known candidates, according to people who have talked to him or been briefed on his meetings, he was blunt about the challenges of breaking out of a large field. His advice is not always heeded. He told Patrick earlier this year that it was likely “too late” for him to secure “money and talent” if he jumped in the race. Occasionally, he can be cutting. With one candidate, he pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa, that he no longer has. Then he added, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
This is obviously very true. Biden’s strongest selling point in the 2020 Democratic primary is that he was Obama’s vice president, an he never misses an opportunity to remind voters of this fact. This is also likely the main reason Biden polls so well with African American voters. The addition of Deval Patrick, a longtime friend of Obama, to the race has the potential to siphon away some of that support in early voting states like New Hampshire. Perhaps that’s Obama’s hope. He advised Biden not to run both in 2016 and 2020—only succeeding to convince him the first time. Biden’s candidacy has forced some unflattering coverage of Obama-era corruption with Ukraine with regard to whether Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma Holdings gave them improper access to the White House and thus making the ouster of the prosecutor investigating Burisma official U.S. policy.
Obama wouldn’t be trashing Biden’s ability to connect with voters if he didn’t think there was another candidate ready to take over as the frontrunner and likely nominee. I think it’s clear that Barack Obama is hoping that Biden’s time in the race is going to come to an early end.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis