Barack Obama has loomed large but silent in the 2020 Democratic primary. But is it time for him to step up to prevent Sanders from being competitive through Super Tuesday?
Joe Biden has finally won a primary–quite literally his first one ever–and he won big. After two Sanders victories, it’s just the jolt Biden needed as things were looking pretty bleak for him after Nevada. The question is will it be enough to give him the momentum he needs to reclaim his status as the frontrunner? By itself, probably not.
Super Tuesday is just days away, and right now it looks like we’ve probably got a duel between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders shaping up, unless something else happens between now and Tuesday to encourage Democrat voters to coalesce behind Biden. According to John Podhoretz of the New York Post, an endorsement from Barack Obama is what Biden really needs. Receiving the endorsements of Ted and Caroline Kennedy in 2008 after Obama’s South Carolina primary victory was instrumental to Obama’s campaign success, he noted. “Think how much more crucial it would be right now if Obama finally followed suit and endorsed Joe Biden after his vice president’s smashing victory in the Palmetto State.”
He added, “Biden could really use a massive news event to make the point to voters in those 14 states that he is a winner and a better choice against Donald Trump than Bernie Sanders — and Obama’s ego might be tickled by the prospect at being a decisive player in the race.”
It has been reported that Barack Obama would intervene to stop Bernie Sanders. Podhoretz does make a great point that now is an ideal time to endorse Biden, despite his concerns about his former vice president’s electability, because this race has clearly shaping into a Biden/Sanders duel, much like the Hillary/Sanders battle of 2016, which many people say was rigged in her favor.
Despite Biden’s victory in South Carolina, that victory alone probably won’t be enough to make him the runaway victor of Super Tuesday. Obama could put a stake in the heart of the Sanders campaign now if he decided to endorse Biden. Let’s not forget, Biden spent most of the campaign as the frontrunner before crashing in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. His best chance to not get into a bloodbath with Bernie Sanders would be getting endorsed by Barack Obama, but it seems unlikely that Obama will do this. Bernie Sanders’s followers are arguably more energized and enthusiastic about Bernie than Biden’s supporters are about Quid Pro Joe.
It wouldn’t shock me to hear that Barack Obama is at least considering making a public endorsement, but with Super Tuesday just days away, I don’t think we’ll see it happen. FiveThirtyEight still predicts a brokered convention is the most likely outcome, and the Democrat establishment will certainly deliver the nomination for Biden there without Barack Obama having to get involved.
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