Obama showed little public support for Biden at recent democracy event, attendees say: ‘Tensions were evident’

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A new media report claims “tensions were evident” between the Obama and Biden camps at the former’s nonprofit’s democracy forum earlier this month, with some feeling President Biden received insufficient support at the event from his old boss as he seeks to unite the Democratic Party.

“The takeaway of the weekend was not, ‘Hey team, we’re got to get the band back together to help Biden out,’” one attendee told the Washington Post. “If this is a supposedly existential threat and democracy is so challenged, then why aren’t you being more overt about it.”

Former President Obama and thousands of former staffers gathered in Chicago earlier this month to mark the 15th anniversary of his election victory in 2008, and the Obama Foundation’s forum was pegged to the event to explore “issues critical to strengthening democracy.” Obama gave a speech and also an interview to the left-wing podcast “Pod Save America,” hosted by some of his former staffers, that weekend. 

In the interview, Obama didn’t mention Biden once, even while discussing threats to democracy; as the Post put it, he “eschewed several opportunities to promote his former running mate’s campaign,” which is facing alarm over surveys showing him behind former President Trump. Obama’s speech only mentioned Biden twice and not in the context of the election. 

Obama

Former U.S. President Barack Obama confers with U.S. President Joe Biden during a ceremony to unveil Obama’s official White House portrait at the White House on September 7, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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“At the Chicago forum, multiple attendees also noted the pointed absence of any meaningful cheerleading for Biden, who had served eight years as Obama’s vice president,” the Washington Post reported. “Several attendees said the tensions were evident.”

An Obama spokesperson noted to the Post that as a nonprofit, the Obama Foundation is prohibited from partisan political activity. 

The report also noted Biden campaign officials gave an off-site presentation to worried Democrats that same weekend in Chicago about his path to victory in 2024. While the polls are making some party members panic, Democrats did score several key election victories earlier this month, winning the Kentucky governor’s race and the hotly contested Virginia legislature, as well a major abortion initiative in Ohio.

The Washington Post reported on the continued efforts of the Biden campaign to assuage alarmed party members and supporters over polling showing him trailing former President Trump and concerns about one issue in particular Biden cannot control: his age. Already the oldest president in American history, Biden turned 81 on Monday and surveys have repeatedly shown public angst over his viability for the job.

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Trump, Biden

An NBC poll released on Sunday showed Donald Trump ahead of President Biden in a 2024 general election match-up.  (Left:  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images), Right: (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images))

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of the top figures in Obama’s successful campaigns has become a true thorn in Biden’s side: David Axelrod. The longtime Democratic strategist has made headlines by raising concerns about Biden’s re-election prospects; at one point, Axelrod even pondered if it was “wise” for Biden to run again.

Axelrod has made enough of a ruckus that Biden reportedly has called him a “prick” in private. Axelrod told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in a piece published Sunday that he didn’t care as long as Biden’s orbit took the polling seriously.

“I don’t care about them thinking I’m a prick — that’s fine,” Axelrod told Dowd. “I hope they don’t think the polls are wrong, because they’re not.”

“I think he has a 50-50 shot here, but no better than that, maybe a little worse,” Axelrod added. “He thinks he can cheat nature here and it’s really risky. They’ve got a real problem if they’re counting on Trump to win it for them. I remember Hillary doing that, too.”

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