WorldTribune, April 16, 2020
Analysis by Paul Crespo
As America watched Democratic presidential primary candidates drop like flies in March, many wondered what was behind their quick departure and the sudden surge of Joe Biden’s previously slumping campaign.
Some speculated it was former President Barack Obama pulling the strings. And now it has become increasingly clear that they were right.
On April 14, Obama finally publicly endorsed Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on sitting President Donald Trump.
But, far from simply endorsing the new unofficial nominee, Obama’s now open involvement in the Biden campaign is only the latest step in a months-long behind-the-scenes effort by Obama to influence the 2020 election.
According to The New York Times, despite Obama’s claims to not want to put his “thumb on the scale” of the primary race, Obama had in fact, kept in close contact with senior Democrat party officials, to use his influence to help prevent a repeat of the protracted and nasty 2016 primary race.
After apparently discreetly convincing several other remaining Democrat contenders, such as Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, and even Tulsi Gabbard, to drop out and endorse Biden, Obama still needed to “ease out” the biggest obstacle to Biden — Bernie Sanders.
As the Times described:
Then, in the weeks after it became clear that Mr. Biden was the party’s near-certain nominee, Mr. Obama — telling a friend he needed to ‘accelerate the endgame’ — had at least four long conversations with his former vice president’s remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Obama’s efforts to ease the senator out of the race played a significant role in Mr. Sanders’s decision to end his bid and endorse Mr. Biden.
By that time, Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama had already begun hashing out the thorny questions of how, when and where to deploy a former president thrust into an unfamiliar role as his sidekick’s sidekick.
Sanders finally left the race last week after the Wisconsin primary election, another in a string of primaries held at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Sanders endorsed Biden in a livestream video and announced the formation of “policy working groups” relying on experts from both campaigns. This was intended to encourage the idea with Sanders supporters that his views would be incorporated into Biden’s campaign platform.
With Sanders out and endorsing Biden, Obama was free to finally endorse Biden as the uncontested, if not yet official, Democrat nominee.
And now, with the primary campaign over we can expect Obama to play a far greater role in the 2020 race. As the New York Times writes, “Biden and his aides are eager to deploy the former president as quickly as possible, especially on fund-raising, as they race to compete with President Trump’s small-donor juggernaut.”
Meanwhile, as much as Biden insists Obama “had not lifted a finger” to help him win in South Carolina and the nomination, the facts demonstrate otherwise. As the Times slyly noted — well, “maybe a pinkie.”