Joe Biden insisted on Monday that he doesn’t need former President Obama’s endorsement in the Democratic presidential race because his connection to his ex-boss is already clear to voters.
In an interview with Politico, the former vice president repeated his past claim that he told Obama not to endorse him in the primary. Asked whether he would want the former president’s blessing if the field of Democratic candidates narrowed to three people, Biden was blunt.
“No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,” he said. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
Biden also addressed a recent Politico Magazine story recalling how Obama once reportedly told another Democratic candidate that the former Delaware senator “really doesn’t have it” when it comes to connecting with voters on a personal level.
“He may have said that,” Biden told Politico. “And if it’s true, and he said it, there’s truth to it.”
In the interview, Biden also touched on the dynamics of the Democratic primary field. He dismissed the sense that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has gained momentum in recent months, brushing off any notion that her large crowd sizes amount to measurable political energy.
“Oh, great, she had a showing in Chicago,” Biden said derisively, according to Politico. “By the way, that’s a wonderful thing. Show me any numbers.”
Biden accused another Democratic rival, Pete Buttigieg, of stealing his plans, saying that the 38-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., once backed a more progressive health care proposal before throwing his support behind a more moderate plan.
An aide to Buttigieg noted in response to Biden’s comments, however, that South Bend mayor had been proposing a public health care option, dubbed “Medicare for All who want it,” since before Biden entered the presidential race in April.
Overall, he said, the tenor of the Democratic primary contest is moving in the direction of the field’s moderates. Asked by Politico whether his brand of moderate politics had set the stage for Buttigieg’s success in Iowa, Biden accused his rival of latching on to his plans.
“Set it up? He stole it! Set it up?” Biden told the news outlet. “No, he doesn’t have the enthusiasm and the moderate — moderate plan. It’s the Biden plan.”
–Updated at 9:26 p.m.