Obama didn’t want Biden to run for one simple reason. He was worried that his friend might “embarrass himself.”
When it comes to Joe Biden, it isn’t really about his stances on various issues. His electability is predominantly derived from the lingering afterglow of his tenure as Barack Obama’s vice president.
“Buddy Biden,” as some remember him from the many internet memes, is popular almost solely because of his relationship to Obama. Where he stands on major political issues seems secondary, almost an afterthought.
On Friday, however, The New York Times published a piece on the Democratic hopeful’s history with the former President.
While they shared a “rosy” relationship, for the most part, it isn’t as simple as it seems.
Unease with Biden Running
According to the Times, Biden had a “simmering ambition” that became “a source of unease for both men.”
Obama dissuaded Biden from running in the 2016 election, believing Clinton stood a better chance. He also thought Biden needed time to recover emotionally from the loss of his son in May 2015.
Again, in the run-up to the 2020 elections, Obama suggested his friend not run for president.
“You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Obama reportedly told his former VP.
Biden, determined, said he couldn’t forgive himself if he were to turn down another opportunity to beat Donald Trump. He also believes he could have won in 2016, had he gone forward with running.
Prone to Gaffes
Though Biden may be the current frontrunner in many polls, he has a proven tendency to get things twisted. As the Times put it, his “singular liability” has always been his “notoriously self-tangling tongue.”
Since he announced his candidacy, Biden has had a slew of slips.
For instance, Biden referred to Britain’s former prime minister Theresa May as Margaret Thatcher multiple times. He also claimed he was vice president during the Parkland, Florida shooting, which occurred in 2017.
His “poor kids are just as bright … as white kids,” blunder during a speech in Iowa didn’t exactly go over well either.
A Serial Stumbler
The list of Biden’s gaffes goes on and on.
During the July debates, he became the object of internet-ridicule after the bizarre way he directed viewers to his website.
“If you agree with me, go to Joe 3-0-3-3-0 and help me in this fight,” he said. His actual campaign website is simply joebiden.com, and he really meant to tell people to text the number. Still, many were concerned he might not fully understand how the internet works.
It’s with these moments in mind that some worry that Biden could struggle against a bully like Trump.
Risk of Embarrassment
Obama appears to be among those concerned about Biden potentially embarrassing himself, too.
The Times reports that Obama gathered Biden’s top advisors to his office back in March. Allegedly, he cautioned them to ensure Biden doesn’t “embarrass himself,” and was concerned Biden might “damage his legacy.”
Obama has made clear that he does not intend to make an endorsement until after the primaries. However, he has offered his counsel to all the candidates – obviously including Biden, despite his apparent frustrations.