While the former President has publicly backed Biden – albeit late in the day – he is said to be warning his inner circle that he may not be fit for office.
‘Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f**k things up,’ Obama has cautioned, according to one Democrat who spoke to Politico.
Obama allegedly cautioned insiders not to underestimate his VP’s ability ‘to f**k things up’
Obama is said to have bemoaned Biden’s lack of understanding for much of the Democratic electorate.
The former president allegedly told one former Democratic candidate that he was struggling to understand voters in the likes of Iowa.
‘And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden,’ they said he added.
Yet, Biden has pushed ahead despite knowing that Obama may feel he is not the right person for the job and disagrees with his governing style.
‘He 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,’ said Leon Panetta, Obama’s secretary of Defense.
‘To some extent, [he] oftentimes felt that that loyalty was not being rewarded.’
Biden is said to have hit out of the fact that Obama didn’t ‘lift a finger’ to help him take the primary in South Carolina and that he had won the support of black voters in the state on his own merit.
‘[Biden] did feel that he needed to go out and earn it himself, as opposed to having people see it as an extension of a third Obama term or having it be any kind of referendum directly on Obama,’ Anita Dunn, an Obama administration aide and top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign, said.
The tension comes after Obama lined up Clinton instead of his own VP to be his successor, talking Biden out of a run in 2016.
Barack Obama was slow to endorse his former Vice President Joe Biden for president
While the move was linked to Biden’s recent loss of his son Beau and it being too soon after the death for him to begin a grueling presidential campaign, insiders have said that Obama simply viewed Clinton as a better person to take over.
‘Vice President Biden was devastated, as any parent would be, by the loss of Beau. It was excruciating to watch him suffer the way he did,’ Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close adviser and family friend, claimed.
Yet Obama heaped praise on Clinton early after his own 2012 reelection.
‘I was a big admirer of Hillary’s before our primary battles and the general election,’ Obama once said.
Biden revealed in his 2017 book ‘Promise Me, Dad’ that Obama encouraged him not to run in 2016. The president had backed Clinton
‘You know, her discipline, her stamina, her thoughtfulness, her ability to project, I think, and make clear issues that are important to the American people, I thought made her an extraordinary talent. … [P]art of our bond is we’ve been through a lot of the same stuff.’
Obama is said to have viewed himself and Clinton as the ones that do ‘the reading’.
‘In Situation Room meetings, she had the thickest binder and had read it three times,’ one Clinton aide told Politico.
While in office, young Obama aides are reported to have dismissed Biden, even ‘eye-rolling’ when the VP would begin speaking, while former members of the administrations have also treated Biden dismissively in their memoirs.
‘In the Situation Room, Biden could be something of an unguided missile,’ Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, wrote.
Former FBI Director James Comey also said that ‘Obama would have a series of exchanges heading a conversation very clearly and crisply in Direction A. Then, at some point, Biden would jump in with, ‘Can I ask something, Mr. President?’
‘Obama would politely agree, but something in his expression suggested he knew full well that for the next five or 10 minutes we would all be heading in Direction Z,’ Comey added.
‘After listening and patiently waiting, President Obama would then bring the conversation back on course.’
Biden himself revealed that Obama ‘had been subtly weighing in against’ a 2016 presidential run in his 2017 book ‘Promise Me, Dad’.
‘I also believe he had concluded that Hillary Clinton was almost certain to be the nominee, which was good by him,’ Biden wrote.
Obama and Biden shared a close friendship in office but that did not extend to a ready endorsement from Obama that his former VP should be the next U.S. President. Obama instead pushed for Hillary Clinton to be his successor. Pictured, Obama, Biden and Clinton
‘I think there was a certain attraction to someone that would certainly break ceilings and kind of create the same kind of precedent that he created when he became president … as opposed to supporting somebody who’s kind of your more traditional politician and, you know, a white Irish Catholic guy,’ Panetta added of Obama’s preference for Clinton.
‘There was a feeling of inevitability about Hillary Clinton in every aspect,’ added Jen Psaki, the former White House communications director.
‘So it never felt to me like it was Obama choosing Hillary Clinton over Joe Biden. It was a feeling like it’s inevitable after Hillary Clinton left the State Department that she will be the Democratic nominee, and she will become the next president. So Obama … was trying to play a part in being helpful.’
The tension becomes more clear when looking back at Obama’s endorsement of Clinton in 2016.
‘I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,’ Obama said of former New York Senator.
In contrast he said of Biden this year: ‘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 is said to have hit out that Obama didn’t ‘lift a finger’ to help him in South Carolina
Obama’s dismissal of Biden comes despite Republicans recalling how they preferred to negotiate with the Vice President over the President, referring to Obama’s know-it-all attitude which they felt spoke down to them.
‘Negotiating with President Obama was all about the fact that he felt that he knew the world better than you,’ said Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader from 2011 to 2014.
‘And he felt that he thought about it so much, that he figured it all out, and no matter what conclusion you had come to with the same set of facts, his way was right.’
However Biden, he added, understood that ‘you’re gonna have to agree to disagree about some things’.
‘Biden doesn’t come from the wonky angle of leadership,’ said a senior Obama administration official.
‘It’s different than the last two Democratic presidents. Biden is from a different style. It’s an older style, of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson of ‘Let’s meet, let’s negotiate, let’s talk, let’s have a deal.’
Yet some insiders believe Biden is set to surprise those who believed he was incapable of taking the Oval Office.
Biden ‘might have the last laugh of everybody,’ Philippe Reines, Clinton’s former press aide said.