The media portrayed former President Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden as BFFs.
But now it appears the former president stabbed his friend in the back.
And then he twisted the knife.
As Biden prepares to begin his 2020 presidential campaign, President Obama indirectly said his time is done, The Hill reported.
Former President Obama’s talk about how politics need “new blood” is being seen as a blow to Joe Biden, the former vice president that Obama did not back to succeed him in 2016.
Sources close to both men describe Obama and Biden as friends who share an admiration and respect for one another.
But they also acknowledge recent remarks like the one Obama made this week in Hawaii represent a sort of threat to Biden, who has told allies in recent days that he’s likely to enter the 2020 presidential race.
Obama was speaking broadly about the need for new blood in politics, not specifically the need for new blood in the Democratic Party.
But coming on the heels of Obama’s meeting with former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), a rising Democratic star who most political observers see as competing with Biden for a slice of the primary electorate, it also sent a signal to the wider political world.
The remark and the burgeoning flirtation between Obama’s political network and O’Rourke also stings Biden given the 2016 campaign, when Obama backed Hillary Clinton and nudged the vice president away from the race, insiders say.
“The president loves this guy, loves Joe, thinks the world of him. He would go in a battle ditch with Joe but that’s different than giving his brand to him,” one ally of Obama’s said in describing the political dynamic and the former president’s actions.
“He has an incredible soft spot for him. And I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to make Joe feel good, but he won’t come out and make Joe his candidate,” the ally said. “And I think that hurts Joe.”
“There’s always been a fragility to their relationship,” one former administration aide added, acknowledging some rocky moments.
Eric Schultz, the longtime White House aide who serves as a senior adviser to Obama, said the former president “thinks the world” of Biden and “they remain genuinely good friends today.”
“He has said many times over that the best decision he made in his career was to select Vice President Biden as his running mate,” Schultz said.
A source close to Obama also added that the two men speak “fairly regularly — a lot more than any potential 2020 candidate” and that the two catch up in person from time to time. To that point, Biden came to Obama’s office holiday party in Washington last month, the source said.
At the same time, there have been some sensitivities along the way. Biden, for example, saw Obama’s decision to name Clinton as his secretary of State — after a brutal 2008 primary when Obama upset Clinton to win the nomination — as intentional, the aide said.
“He always felt like it was a decision that set her up to be the nominee and I know it stung afterward,” the administration aide said.