Former President Barack Obama, discussing Joe Biden's run for the high office in 2020, reportedly told his vice president that he didn't "have to do this."
“You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Obama told Biden early in 2019, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that Obama "took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms."
Biden, who leads President Trump in several polls on 2020 matchups, said he couldn't forgive himself if he passed up the opportunity to beat Trump. He initially thought he could beat Trump in 2016, but Obama reportedly pushed back because, in part, he thought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be more effective in continuing his legacy, according to the report.
Speculation has swirled over the decision by Obama to so far refrain from endorsing Biden formally. Still, despite Obama's early hesitation, he has taken a much more involved role in Biden's campaign than in that of other candidates', The Times reported.
Biden has also invoked Obama, America's first black president, while defending himself against racism accusations on the campaign trail. But he has for years faced scrutiny over his views on race.
In January of 2007, he famously said that Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Obama laughed the remark off, according to The Times.
Despite Obama's widespread popularity among Democrats, the former president appeared to become somewhat of a liability for his friend.
During the second round of primary debates, Biden faced criticism over the number of deportations under the Obama administration. The Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature legislative achievement, also came under fire from candidates who said it had fallen short.
While Obama has stayed relatively quiet during the 2020 race, some of his former officials have cautioned against using the former administration to attack Biden during the primaries.