WASHINGTON — During a trip to the White House in June, former President Barack Obama made it clear to his former running mate that he was committed to doing whatever it takes to support his re-election, three sources familiar with the meeting confirmed to NBC News.
As part of a visit that included a private lunch, the two presidents discussed how much was at stake in 2024, especially because of the continued strength of former President Donald Trump’s base, two of the sources said.
The Washington Post was first to report Wednesday that Obama had expressed concern during the private lunch about Trump's strengths, including his base, conservative media that's friendly to Trump and a politically polarized electorate. Sources familiar with the meeting declined to offer additional details.
“Just as he always has, President Obama looks forward to supporting Democrats up and down the ballot next fall, and no race has bigger stakes than President Biden’s re-election,” Eric Schultz, an Obama spokesperson, told NBC News.
“Our strategy will be based on driving impact. We place a huge emphasis on finding creative ways to reach new audiences, especially tools that can be directly tied to voter mobilization or volunteer activations. We are deliberate in picking our moments because our objective is to move the needle,” Schultz added.
The Biden-Obama conversation came as multiple Democratic strategists have made the case that the president may be best positioned to win re-election in a rematch against Trump, compared with other potential GOP opponents.
As NBC News reported on the day of Obama’s White House visit in June, officials in both camps were careful to characterize it as just “another check-in conversation,” a clear effort to convey that such interactions were hardly uncommon. Biden and Obama had spoken by phone just a few weeks earlier, after the successful resolution of the debt ceiling debate.
Politics was clearly on the agenda during the June lunch. While at the White House, Obama and Biden recorded several videos that were used to raise money for Biden’s re-election campaign ahead of the quarterly filing deadline. And in a fundraising email in Obama’s name, the former president said: “Our democracy is at stake right now. … We’re seeing a dangerous strand of anti-democratic sentiment. We’ve got to fight back against it.”