Joe Biden’s been touting his best friendship with Barack Obama all along the campaign trail, but it does not seem like the feeling is mutual. At the very least, the Obamas haven’t pulled out their “Uncle Joe 4 Prez” t-shirts quite yet—Michelle Obama said this weekend that she and Barack won’t endorse a candidate until after the primary elections are over.
According to ABC News, Michelle Obama was at the Essence festival in New Orleans on Saturday night when moderator Gayle King asked her to address Kamala Harris’s showdown with Biden at last month’s presidential debate. Obama declined to comment—“I’ve been doing this rodeo for too long,” she said, which, fair—and also declined to offer Biden, her husband’s Vice President, an endorsement.
In fact, the Obamas aren’t endorsing any of the approximately six thousand Democratic candidates vying for the 2020 nomination. Per ABC News:
“Barack and I are going to support whoever wins the primary, so ... our primary focus is letting the primary process play out, because it’s very early,” she said. “I mean, that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early; it’s like trying to figure out who’s winning the World Series on the first seven games. I mean that’s where we are right now, it is so early.”
In fairness, Barack Obama didn’t endorse Hillary Clinton until after the 2016 primaries. And when Biden announced his candidacy in April, sources close to the Obamas told the press it was likely the former president would wait to endorse until the field narrowed a little, so it’s not a total surprise that they’re holding off.
Still, it seems awkward for Biden that the Obamas won’t defend him over the Harris fight—which, you know, stemmed from his public praise of segregationists, in addition to his stance toward busing—particularly since he’s been using his relationship with Barack Obama as an example of his much self-touted lack of racist bones. Perhaps the “But I have black friends!” route is not the best one for Biden to take?