Former Vice President Joe Biden is banking on his connection to former President Barack Obama to propel him through the 2020 Democratic primary, but after an embarrassing misstep Saturday, drawing that line may be harder than Biden first thought.
Saturday was officially “Best Friends Day” on the internet, and Biden took advantage of the situation to reinforce his connection to Obama by posting a photo of a pair of friendship bracelets that read, “Barack” and “Joe.”
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 9, 2019
The caption read, “Happy #BestFriendsDay, to my friend, @BarackObama.”
The photo isn’t new. In fact, it’s from August 2016, when Joe Biden was still Vice President. The gag was originally meant as a joke birthday card for Obama, who was celebrating his 55th birthday.
Happy 55th, Barack! A brother to me, a best friend forever. pic.twitter.com/uNsxouTKOO
— VP Biden (Archived) (@VP44) August 4, 2016
At the time — back when Obama was considered suitably progressive and the Democratic party was united in its effort to defeat then-Republican candidate Donald Trump — the Tweet drew rave reviews. Accounts with blue check marks nodded approvingly, responding with heart-eyes emoji and pleas for Obama and Biden to stay in office forever. A few even made their own friendship bracelets, so that they could pretend to share in the Obama/Biden bromance.
Saturday’s Tweet did not earn Biden the same unbridled admiration. Instead, it inspired a wave of mockery from all sides, and scorn even from Barack Obama’s former campaign guru, David Axelrod.
This is a joke, right?
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) June 9, 2019
Social media responded by asking Biden if he was “okay,” and called the former Veep, “clingy” and “really weird.” Others pointed out that although Joe Biden is staying close friends with Barack Obama, Obama has been less than friendly when it comes to supporting his former Vice President’s bid for the White House.
When Biden finally announced his intent to run for president back in April, Obama didn’t jump at the chance to see his heir apparent off on the campaign trail. In fact, although Obama publicly wished Biden well, he made no endorsement. A spokesperson for Obama called the pair’s relationship a “special bond,” but stopped short of giving any indication of Obama’s thoughts on whether Biden would be a good president.
“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. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today,” the spokesperson said.
In a similar scene of sadness, Biden told reporters that he had explicitly asked Obama not to issue an endorsement (though Biden hinted that he knew Obama was in his court).
“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” he said, per USA Today. “Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”
Rumor has it that Obama isn’t really interested in seeing Biden ascend to the presidency, even if it would mean an era of Obama nostalgia follows a term of Trump. Obama has been meeting privately with a number of 2020 contenders, and seemed, at first, to prefer Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for the nomination.
That doesn’t mean Biden is about to lose Obama’s number, though, apparently.
Keep trying, buddy.