Former President Barack Obama once warned he would step in to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders from securing the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a new report.
Obama reportedly vowed to speak out against the Vermont socialist Sanders if it appeared as if he could actually win, Politico reported.
“‘Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him,’ Politico wrote. “An Obama spokesperson, however, reportedly noted that the former president has stated that he would get behind the Democratic nominee regardless of who it is.”
One adviser said that while they personally had no knowledge of this, the threat of a Sanders nomination would likely be cause for action.
“I can’t really confirm that,” the adviser said, regarding the possibility of Obama trying to stop Sanders. “He hasn’t said that directly to me. The only reason I’m hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening.”
This aversion to Sanders would be in line with Obama’s recent comments. At an Obama Foundation Summit event in October, Obama took aim at political “wokeness” and cancel culture.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke, and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” Obama said.
Obama also had some disparaging things to say about his old partner, Joe Biden.
The former president has been meeting with hopefuls in his Washington, D.C., offices for months, “Ostensibly the meetings are for the aspiring candidates to gain some wisdom from the last Democrat to win an open presidential primary and the presidency, but they also allow Obama to collect his own intelligence about what he and his closest advisers have made clear is all that matters to him: who can beat Donald Trump,” Politico writes.
Sometimes he offers candid advice about his visitors’ strengths and weaknesses. With several lesser-known candidates, according to people who have talked to him or been briefed on his meetings, he was blunt about the challenges of breaking out of a large field. His advice is not always heeded. He told [former Massachusetts Gov. Deval] Patrick earlier this year that it was likely “too late” for him to secure “money and talent” if he jumped in the race. Occasionally, he can be cutting. With one candidate, he pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa, that he no longer has. Then he added, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
In April, when Biden announced he would be running for the Democratic nomination, Obama issued a statement through spokeswoman Katie Hill.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today,” the statement said.
The statement was notably lacking a formal endorsement.
Biden, though, said he had personally asked Obama not to issue an endorsement. “I asked President Obama not to endorse, and he doesn’t want to. Listen, we should — whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits,” he said when asked by reporters why Obama had not endorsed him.
The New York Times also reported that Obama quietly urged Biden not to run. “The two men spoke at least a half dozen times before Mr. Biden decided to run, and Mr. Obama took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms,” The Times wrote in a piece headlined “Obama’s and Biden’s Relationship Looks Rosy. It Wasn’t Always That Simple.”
“‘You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,’ Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the exchange.”