Barack Obama did his level best to nudge Joe Biden out of the 2016 presidential race, after concluding that Hillary Clinton was more electable.
The then-president ‘gently pressed’ his vice president during a series of weekly lunches, according to a report in The New York Times, tapping him toward the conclusion that he wasn’t up to the grueling task of running.
And then came the hammer: Obama sent political aide David Plouffe to talk him out of it.
It worked. Biden scrapped an announcement speech he had drafted. Instead, he declared alongside Obama in a Rose Garden speech that the time he spent grieving the death of his son Beau from brain cancer had closed the path forward.
Now, at age 76, Biden has decided his time has come. But days after he launched his third White House run in earnest, an Obama endorsement still seems a great distance away.
President Barack Obama nudged Joe Biden, his vice president, out of the 2016 race to succeed him, according to a New York Times report
Biden is running in the 2020 presidential contest, but at age 76 he may havse missed his window
The former vice president gamely responded to the lack of a legacy-nod by telling reporters on Thursday that he wanted it that way.
‘I asked President Obama not to endorse me,’ he claimed during a Day One campaign stop.
‘He doesn’t want to – whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits. Welcome to Delaware.’
Obama’s objections in 2016 came ‘from a good place, from wanting the best for him in that moment,’ Ben Rhodes, a former White House national security spokesman, told the Times.
But Biden’s ‘head was just someplace else’ in the wake of losing his son, he recalled.
‘And if you’re going to do three or four events a day in Iowa, it’s just hard to do that unless you’re all in.’
Obama judged in 2015 that Hillary Clinton had the better chance to win a general election, and sent political aide David Plouffe to talk Biden out of running
Obama’s decision to put his oar in four years ago, whether from a place of friendship or manipulation on Clinton’s behalf, extended to telling Biden not to get out over his skis.
He didn’t want an extended public dalliance with history to saddle his second-in-command with a legacy as a waffler if he decided against jumping in.
This time Obama’s silence is telling a gentler story that could have the same ending.
A person familiar with Obama’s thinking said Thursday that the 44th president is ‘excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates.’
But ‘it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process – preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters,’ the source said.
Biden served as vice president for two terms and had Obama’s unflagging support – until Hillary Clinton took his place as the Democrats’ standard-bearer in 2016; he launched his third presidential run on Thursday and Obama has yet to endorse him
In public, Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill told reporters: ‘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,’ said Hill. ‘The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.’
But that wasn’t enough to snuff out the appearance that Biden’s moment as party heir-apparent had passed in 2015 when he decided not to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
The decision was a gut-wrenching one and two months later, with Clinton faltering and Donald Trump surging, he told a TV interviewer of his decision: ‘I regret it every day.’
WHO ARE THE 12 DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2020?
Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 56
Entered race: May 2, 2019
Career: Currently Colorado senator. Educated at elite St. Albans preparatory school and was a Capitol Hill page before graduating Wesleyan and Yale Law School. Was law clerk and worked in Clinton’s Department of Justice then moved to Colorado in 1997 as managing director of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s investment company. Was chief of staff to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, then superintendent of Denver Public schools. Appointed to vacant Colorado Senate seat in 2009, held it 48.1 to 46.4 in 2010 and 50 to 44.3 in 2016
Family: Married to environmental attorney Susan Daggett, with three daughters – Halina, Anne and Caroline. Was born in New Delhi while to diplomat father Douglas Bennet, who went onto be CEO of NPR and a Clinton assistant secretary of state. His grandfather, also Douglas, was an economic adviser to FDR. Mother Susanne is retired elementary school librarian whose parents were Holocaust survivors. Brother James is editor of the New York Times opinion section
Religion: Says he was raised with Jewish and Christian heritage; no known adherence
Views on key issues: Moderate who does not endorse Medicare for all or – so far – Green New Deal. Strongly pro-choice and pro-gay rights, leading to 2010 Senate victory. Pro raising minimum wage. Wants citizenship pathway for ‘dreamers.’
Would make history as: First Colorado president
Slogan: Building Opportunity Together
Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 78
Entered race: April 25, 2019
Career: No current role. A University of Delaware and Syracuse Law graduate, he was first elected to Newcastle City Council in 1969, then won upset election to Senate in 1972, aged 29. Was talked out of quitting before being sworn in when his wife and daughter died in a car crash and served total of six terms. Chaired Judiciary Committee’s notorious Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Ran for president in 1988, pulled out after plagiarism scandal, ran again in 2008, withdrew after placing fifth in the Iowa Caucuses. Tapped by Obama as his running mate and served two terms as vice president. Contemplated third run in 2016 but decided against it after his son died of brain cancer.
Family: Eldest of four siblings born to Joe Biden Sr. and Catherine Finnegan. First wife Neilia Hunter and their one-year-old daughter Naomi died in car crash which their two sons, Joseph ‘Beau’ and Robert Hunter survived. Married Jill Jacobs in 1976, with whom he has daughter Ashley. Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. Hunter’s marriage to Kathleen Buhle, with whom he has three children, ended in 2016 when it emerged Hunter was in a relationship with Beau’s widow Hallie, mother of their two children. Hunter admitted cocaine use; his estranged wife accused him of blowing their savings on drugs and prostitutes
Views on key issues: Ultra-moderate who will emphasize bipartisan record. Will come under fire over record, having voted: to stop desegregation bussing in 1975; to overturn Roe v Wade in 1981; for now controversial 1994 Violent Crime Act; for 2003 Iraq War; and for banking deregulation. Says he is ‘most progressive’ Democrat. New positions include free college, tax reform, $15 minimum wage. No public position yet on Green New Deal and healthcare. Pro-gun control. Has already apologized to women who say he touched them inappropriately
Would make history as: Oldest person elected president
Slogan: Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead
Age on Inauguration Day: 78
Entered race: November 25, 2019
Career: Currently multi-billionaire CEO of Bloomberg PL, the financial information firm he founded in 1981 and which remains a private company. Educated at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, he became a Wall Street trader at investment bank Salomon Brothers and was laid off in 1981, walking away with $10m in stock which he used to set up his own financial information firm, now one of the world’s largest. Three times mayor of New York 2002 to 2013, running first as Republican then as independent; had to get term limits suspended for final term. Once flirted with running for mayor of London where he has a home; holds an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth. Has spent large amounts on philanthropy in line with his political views as well as on political campaigns
Family: Born in Brookline, MA, to first-generation Jewish immigrant parents whose own parents had fled Russia. Divorced wife of 18 years, Susan Brown-Meyer, in 1993; former couple have daughters Emma, who has a son with her former boyfriend, and Georgina, who has daughter Zelda with her husband Chris Fissora. The child has a portmanteau surname, Frissberg. Partner since 2000 is Diana Taylor, former New York state banking commissioner, 13 years his junior
Views on key issues: Self-professed fiscal conservative, although painted as a Democratic moderate by other conservative groups. Opposed to Medicare for all. Social progressive who backed gay marriage early, but has flip-flopped on marijuana legalization, most recently opposing it.. Wants firm action on climate change. Fiercely in favor of gun control. As New York mayor banned smoking in public places and tried to outlaw large sugary drinks. Backs increased immigration. Apologized for his stop-and-frisk policing strategy as mayor
Would make history as: Oldest person elected president; first Jewish president; richest president ever; first New York mayor to become president
Slogan: Fighting For Our Fture
Age on Inauguration Day: 39
Entered race: Announced formation of exploratory committee January 23, 2019. Formally entered race April 14, 2019
Career: Currently mayor of Sound Bend, Indiana. Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar who got a second degree from Oxford before working as a McKinsey management consultant and being commissioned as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer. Elected South Bend mayor in 2011 and served in combat in 2013, won re-election in 2015
Family: Came out as gay during second mayoral run and married husband Chasten Glezman, a middle school teacher in 2018. Parents were University of Notre Dame academics; his father was Maltese-American. Surname is pronounced BOOT-edge-edge
Religion: Raised as a Catholic, now Episcopalian
Views on key issues: Has said Democratic party needs a ‘fresh start’; wrote an essay in praise of Bernie Sanders aged 17; backed paid parental leave for city employees; other policies unknown
Would make history as: First openly gay and youngest-ever president. First veteran of post-World War II conflict
Slogan: A Fresh Start For America
Age on Inauguration Day: 57
Entered race: Filed papers July 28, 2017
Career: No current job. Columbia and Georgetown law educated financial entrepreneur. Set up publicly-traded companies lending capital to healthcare and mid-size businesses and was youngest CEO at the time of a New York Stock Exchange-listed firm. Three-time Maryland congressman, first winning election in 2012; announced run for president instead of running again in 2018
Family: Married father of four; wife April works for children’s issues nonprofit. Credits his working class father’s union roots for helping him through college
Views on key issues: Social liberal in favor of legalized pot and gun control but not single-payer healthcare; fiscally conservative
Would make history as: First president from Maryland. First openly bald president since Eisenhower
Slogan: Focus on the Future
Age on Inauguration Day: 39
Entered race: Still to formally file any papers but said she would run on January 11 2019
Career: Currently Hawaii congresswoman. Born on American Samoa, a territory. Raised largely in Hawaii, she co-founded an environmental non-profit with her father as a teenager and was elected to the State Legislature aged 21, its youngest member in history. Enlisted in the National Guard and served two tours, one in Iraq 2004-2006, then as an officer in Kuwait in 2009. Ran for Honolulu City Council in 2011, and House of Representatives in 2012
Family: Married to her second husband, Abraham Williams, a cinematographer since 2015. First marriage to childhood sweetheart Eduardo Tamayo in 2002 ended in 2006. Father Mike Gabbard is a Democratic Hawaii state senator, mother Carol Porter runs a non-profit.
Views on key issues: Has apologized for anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage views; wants marijuana federally legalized; opposed to most U.S. foreign interventions; backs $15 minimum wage and universal health care; was the second elected Democrat to meet Trump after his 2016 victory
Would make history as: First female, Hindu and Samoan-American president; youngest president ever
Slogan: Lead with Love
Age on Inauguration Day: 60
Entered race: Announced candidacy February 10, 2019 at snow-drenched rally in her native Minneapolis
Career: Currently Minnesota senator. Yale and University of Chicago law graduate who became a corporate lawyer. First ran unsuccessfully for office in 1994 as Hennepin, MI, county attorney, and won same race in 1998, then in 2002, without opposition. Ran for Senate in 2006 and won 58-38; re-elected in 2012 and 2018
Family: Married to John Bessler, law professor at University of Baltimore and expert on capital punishment. Daughter Abigail Bessler, 23, works fora Democratic member of New York City council. Father Jim, 90, was a veteran newspaper columnist who has written a memoir of how his alcoholism hurt his family; mom Rose is a retired grade school teacher
Religion: Congregationalist (United Church of Christ)
Views on key issues: Seen as a mainstream liberal: says she wants ‘universal health care’ but has not spelled out how; pro-gun control; pro-choice; backs $15 minimum wage; no public statements on federal marijuana legalization; has backed pro-Israel law banning the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ movement; spoke out against abolishing ICE
Would make history as: First female president
Slogan: Let’s Get To Work
Age on Inauguration Day: 63
Entered race: Told friends he was running on November 13, 2019
Career: Currently a managing director of Bain Capital. Awarded scholarship in eighth grade to Massachusetts boarding school Milton Academy, becoming first in his family to go to college. Harvard law grad who twice failed the bar before working for NAACP then private practice where he represented Mike Tyson’s rape victim Desiree Washington. Assistant attorney general for civil rights in Clinton administration then Texaco and Coca-Cola and sub-prime lender Ameriquest executive. Ran for Massachusetts governor as outside candidate in 2006 and won, becoming first African-American in role, won a second term 48-42.
Family: Born in Chicago, his jazz musician father Pat Patrick left mother Emily Wintersmith when he was three when he fathered a Patrick’s half-sister with another woman. Patrick married wife Diane Bemus, an attorney, in 1984; they have two adult daughters, Sarah and Katherine. Sarah is married to a former Italian soldier Marco Morgese; their son Gianluca is the Patricks’ first grandchild. Katherine came out as lesbian in 2008 and married Alisha Lemieux in 2016.
Views on key issues: Moderate who championed social liberal policies and embraced Obamacare. Boosted transportation spending and increased state gas taxes to pay, speaking out against climate change. Unclear where he stands on Medicare for All and Green New Deal. Pro-gun control, proposing ban on multiple gun sales after Sandy Hook.
Would make history as: No obvious claim
Slogan: To be announced
Age on Inauguration Day: 79
Entered race: Sources said on January 25, 2019, that he would form exploratory committee. Officially announced February 19
Career: Currently Vermont senator. Student civil rights and anti-Vietnam activist who moved to Vermont and worked as a carpenter and radical film-maker. Serial failed political candidate in the 1970s, he ran as a socialist for mayor of Burlington in 1980 and served two terms ending in 1989, and win a seat in Congress as an independent in 1990. Ran for Senate in 2006 elections as an independent with Democratic endorsement and won third term in 2018. Challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016 but lost. Campaign has since been hit by allegations of sexual harassment – for which he has apologized – and criticized for its ‘Bernie bro’ culture
Family: Born to a Jewish immigrant father and the daughter of Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. First marriage to college sweetheart Deborah Shiling Messing in 1964 ended in divorce in 1966; had son Levi in 1969 with then girlfriend Susan Cambell Mott. Married Jone O’Meara in 1988 and considers her three children, all adults, his own. The couple have seven grandchildren. His older brother Larry is a former Green Party councilor in Oxfordshire, England.
Religion: Secular Jewish
Views on key issues: Openly socialist and standard bearer for the Democratic party’s left-turn. Wants federal $15 minimum wage; banks broken up; union membership encouraged; free college tuition; universal health care; re-distributive taxation; he opposed Iraq War and also U.S. leading the fight against ISIS and wants troops largely out of Afghanistan and the Middle East
Would make history as: Oldest person elected president; first Jewish president
Slogan: Not me. Us.
Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 63
Entered race: July 9, 2019
Career: Currently retired. New York-born to wealthy family, he was educated at elite Phillips Exeter Academy, same as rival Andrew Yang, and Yale, then Stanford Business School. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs banker who founded his own hedge fund in 1986 and made himself a billionaire; investments included subprime lenders, private prisons and coal mines. Stepped down in 2012 to focus on advocating for alternative energy. Longtime Democratic activist and donor who started campaign to impeach Trump in October 2017. Net worth of $1.6 billion has made him one of the Democrats’ biggest single donors
Family: Married Kathryn Taylor in 1986; they have four adult children who have been told they will not inherit the bulk of his fortune. Announced last November he and his wife would live apart. Father Roy was a Nuremberg trials prosecutor
Views on key issues: On the left of the field despite being a hedge fund tycoon. Backs single-payer health care, minimum wage rises and free public college. Previously spoke in favor of Bernie Sanders’ agenda. Aggressive backer of climate change action, including ditching fossil fuels
Would make history as: Richest Democratic president ever
Slogan: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Age on Inauguration Day: 71
Entered race: Set up exploratory committee December 31, 2018
Career: Currently Massachusetts senator. Law lecturer and academic who became an expert on bankruptcy law and tenured Harvard professor. Ran for Senate and won in 2012, defeating sitting Republican Scott Brown, held it in 2018 60% to 36%. Was short-listed to be Hillary’s running mate and campaigned hard for her in 2016
Family: Twice-married mother of two and grandmother of three. First husband and father of her children was her high-school sweetheart. Second husband Bruce Mann is Harvard law professor. Daughter Amelia Tyagi and son Alex Warren have both been involved in her campaigns. Has controversially claimed Native American roots; DNA test suggested she is as little as 1,064th Native American
Religion: Raised Methodist, now described as Christian with no fixed church
Views on key issues: Was a registered Republican who voted for the party but registered as a Democrat in 1996. Pro: higher taxes on rich; banking regulation; Dream Act path to citizenship for ‘dreamers’; abortion and gay rights; campaign finance restrictions; and expansion of public provision of healthcare – although still to spell out exactly how that would happen. Against: U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria; liberalization of gambling
Would make history as: First female president
Slogan: Warren Has A Plan For That
Age on Inauguration Day: 46
Entered race: Filed papers November 6, 2018
Career: No current job. Went to public school in New York where he describes being bullied with racial slurs, then elite Phillips Exeter Academy boarding school – same as rival Tom Steyer. Brown and Columbia Law graduate who abandoned career as an attorney then started a dotcom flop then become healthcare and education tech executive who set up nonprofit Venture for America
Family: Married to wife Evelyn with two sons, one of whom he has said is on the autism spectrum. His parents were both immigrants from Taiwan who met at the University of California, Berkeley, as grad students
Religion: Reformed Church
Views on key issues: Warns of rise of robots and artificial intelligence, wants $1,000 a month universal basic income and social media regulated. Spoke out against male circumcision. Wants a state monitor to crack down on ‘fake news.’
Would make history as: First Asian-American president
Slogan: Humanity First
AND THOSE WHO HAVE WITHDRAWN
CORY BOOKER, New Jersey Senator
Entered race: February 1, 2019
Quit: January 13, 2020
STEVE BULLOCK, Montana governor
- Entered race: May 14, 2019
- Quit: December 2, 2019
JULIÁN CASTRO, former Housing Secretary
- Entered race: January 18, 2019
- Quit: January 2, 2020
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, New York senator
- Entered race: January 16, 2019
- Quit: August 28, 2019
BILL DE BLASIO, New York City mayor
- Entered race: May 16, 2019
- Quit: September 20, 2020
MIKE GRAVEL, Former Alaska governor
- Entered race: April 2,2019
- Quit: August 2, 2019
KAMALA HARRIS,California senator
- Entered race: January 21, 2019
- Quit: December 3, 2019
JOHN HICKENLOOPER, Former Colorado governor
- Entered race: March 4, 2019
- Quit: August 15, 2019
JAY INSLEE, Washington governor
- Entered race: March 1, 2019
- Quit: August 21, 2019
WAYNE MESSAM, mayor of Miramar, Florida
- Entered race: March 28, 2019
- Quit: November 20, 2019
SETH MOULTON, Massachusetts congressman
- Entered race: April 22,2019
- Quit: August 23, 2019
RICHARD OJEDA, former West Virginia state senator
- Entered race: November 12, 2018
- Quit: January 25, 2019
BETO O’ROURKE, former Texas congressman
- Entered race: March 14, 2019
- Quit: November 1, 2019
TIM RYAN, Ohio congressman
- Entered race: April 4, 2019
- Quit: October 24, 2019
JOE SESTAK, former Pennsylvania congressman
- Entered race: June 23, 2019
- Quit: December 1, 2019
ERIC SWALWELL, California congressman
- Entered race: April 8, 2019
- Quit: July 8, 2019
MARIANNE WILLSAMSON, author
- Entered race: November 15, 2018
- Quit: January 10, 2020
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