Former Vice President Joe Biden has frequently touted his friendship with former President Barack Obama as he campaigns for president — but those ties might not be as close as voters have been led to believe, according to one new report.
A recent Politico article included surprisingly candid accounts from those close to the pair, describing a “complicated relationship” and less-than-enthusiastic support for Biden’s prospective White House bids in 2016 and 2020 by Obama and the former president’s top advisers.
Differences in style
Of course, the public display of support and friendship is necessary for obvious reasons. According to some sources, however, the story is much different behind the scenes.
Some of the disagreement, Politico found, appears to stem from the different styles of the two politicians. Obama has a reputation as more aloof and cerebral while Biden has embraced his more down-to-earth and conversational persona.
That difference was reportedly on display throughout the Obama administration during meetings and legislative negotiations over the years. In some cases, Biden was reportedly kept out of the loop on issues entirely.
Obama chose to back Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state and a politician with a similar style, ahead of the 2016 presidential primary. He waited until there were no other viable options until endorsing Biden’s 2020 bid.
Among the accounts described in the Politico piece are examples of senior Obama advisers using denigrating language in reference to Biden’s style, age, and penchant for gaffes. A number of officials Biden considered loyal in 2012 subsequently abandoned him to back Clinton four years later.
The Trump campaign responds
Even ahead of November’s election, the piece revealed evidence of lingering animosity and bitterness among members of the Biden, Clinton, and Obama camps. As for Biden’s rival on Election Day, the report elicited a response from President Donald Trump’s campaign communications director, as reported by the Daily Caller.
“Obama urged Biden not to run for president in 2016 and didn’t think he was tough enough to take on Hillary,” said Tim Murtaugh. “He again tried to convince Biden not to run in 2020, and only endorsed Biden after every other candidate had dropped out.”
He went on to cite the report that “Obama frequently froze Joe Biden out of sensitive conversations and dismissed him as an old and out-of-touch politician” in attempting to make Trump’s overarching point about the former vice president.
“Obama knew for years what the American people are coming to realize now: Joe Biden is just a shell,” Murtaugh said.
As Biden struggles to build enthusiasm for his campaign, reports of a strained relationship with Obama might just make things worse.