US former President Barack Obama on Tuesday expressed support for Joe Biden. Until now, Obama has been in the background fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination, but his role may have been larger than thought.
“Appointing Joe as Vice President is one of the best choices I have ever made. He has become a good friend of mine,” said Obama in a video message on Twitter.
Biden is the last remaining Democratic presidential candidate. He will face US President Donald Trump in the upcoming US presidential election in November.
Obama remained silent for a long time during the Democratic primaries. He has never publicly expressed support for Biden, his former vice president. But according to research by The New York Times Obama did play a role in the background.
Obama played a role in Sanders’ exit
For example, the former president spoke several times with that other major contender, the Social Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders. People in Sanders and Obama circles say to the newspaper that those conversations influenced Sanders’ choice to step out of the race and publicly support Biden.
Obama is said to have told Sanders in March that the senator had reached his goal of pulling the Democratic party substantially to the left. At the time, according to two people who have knowledge of the conversation, Sanders was already talking about his plans for after the primaries.
Biden kept “political distance” from Obama
Biden preferred to keep the former president as far away from his campaign as possible, because he wanted to win the primaries on his own. Obama himself feared that if he had supported Biden before, it would appear that he came to his rescue, people in his circle say.
Now that Sanders has left the primaries, Obama can also express his support for Biden more easily without losing too much support from the mostly young Sanders supporters.
The question is whether this more progressive target group is ready to switch to the Biden camp. Some of them, including Sanders’ press secretary himself, have already said they will not do this.