Joe Biden’s owes all of his current political capital to the fact that Barack Obama selected him as his running mate in 2008. His 2008 campaign barely resonated with Democratic voters. But Obama needed someone who, on paper, had something he did not: experience. So Biden was picked as his running mate, and Biden’s political stock shot up.
Biden, in turn, repeatedly name-dropped Obama during the 2020 primary campaign, and referenced their continuing close relationship.
But despite the public image (created by Biden) that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are BFFs, sources told Politico that there are significant tensions between them and their camps, and that Obama really doesn’t think too highly of Joe.
Obama also specifically questioned Biden’s fitness for office.
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“Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f-k things up,” Obama is alleged to have told one source for the article.
Members of the Biden team are also not too thrilled with Obama, and complained that Obama’s endorsement of Biden was weak compared to his 2016 endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
In 2016, Obama wholeheartedly endorsed Clinton, saying, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”
Compare that with Obama’s endorsement of Biden earlier this year, made only after Biden was the last candidate standing: “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.”
But tensions go deeper than Obama’s half-hearted endorsement in 2020.
Despite the public story that Obama effectively chose Hillary Clinton to be his successor because Biden was still emotionally devastated by the loss of his eldest son Beau, according to Politico’s sources in both the Clinton and Biden camps, “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.”
Like Fredo Corleone in The Godfather, Joe Biden was passed over.
Politico interviewed dozens of senior officials of the Obama-Biden administration, some of whom “dismissed Biden as eccentric and a practitioner of an old, outmoded style of politics.”
“You could certainly see technocratic eye-rolling at times,” former White House communications director Jen Psaki told Politico.
“In the Situation Room, Biden could be something of an unguided missile,” wrote Obama’s former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes in his memoir.
Even James Comey recalled in his memoir how Biden would go on tangents during meetings.
Hillary Clinton’s people were also dismissive of Biden’s potential candidacy in 2016. “The good thing about a Biden run is that he would make Hillary look so much better,” Clinton aide Neera Tanden wrote in an email to John Podesta in 2015.
Funny, there’s a lot of that going around.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis