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Barack Obama, Joe Biden
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2016, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, looks upwards while listening to President Barack Obama speak in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Nearly eight years after he was last on the ballot, Obama is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats are eagerly embracing Obama as a political wingman for Joe Biden, who spent two terms by his side as vice president. Obama remains the party’s most popular figure, particularly with black voters and younger Democrats. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Obama Emerges as Central Figure in 2020 US Presidential Race

WASHINGTON – Nearly eight years after he was last on the ballot, Barack Obama is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats are eagerly embracing Obama as a political wingman for Joe Biden, who spent two terms by his side as vice president. Obama remains the party’s most popular figure, particularly with black voters and younger Democrats, and Biden’s presidential campaign is planning for him to have a highly visible role in the months to come.
For President Donald Trump, that means an opportunity to focus the spotlight on one of his favorite political foils.
In recent days, Trump and his allies have aggressively pushed conspiracy theories about Obama designed to fire up the president’s conservative base, taint Biden by association and distract from the glut of grim health and economic news from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Partisans on both sides want to make this about Obama,” said Ned Price, who served as the spokesperson for Obama’s White House National Security Council.
The renewed political focus on Obama sets the stage for an election about the nation’s future that will also be about its past. As Biden looks to Obama for personal validation, he’s also running to restore some of the former president’s legacy, which has been systematically dismantled by Trump. The current president is running in part to finish that job.
Biden’s campaign drew a direct connection between the president’s attacks on Obama and the twin crises battering his administration.
“It’s no surprise that the president is erratically lashing out at President Obama, desperate to distract from his own failures as commander in chief that have cost thousands of Americans their lives during this crisis,” said TJ Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesperson.
Last week, Obama told a large gathering of alumni from his administration that the Justice Department’s decision to drop the Flynn case put the “rule of law at risk.” He also criticized the Trump White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s campaign has been eager to get Obama involved in the election, though his exact role is still forming, particularly given that the pandemic has upended the campaign’s plans for rallies and other in-person events in battleground states.
The former president is also expected to campaign for Democratic House and Senate candidates across the country.
Though, Obama campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, he has mostly tried to avoid overt politics since leaving the White House. He’s spoken out publicly against Trump on rare occasions, frustrating many Democrats who have wanted him to be more aggressive in calling out his successor.
But the 2020 election has always loomed as the moment when Obama would step off the sidelines, and he’s told advisers he’s eager to do so.
Despite his strident public neutrality during the Democratic primary, he spoke to Biden regularly and has continued to do so as the campaign moves into the general election, according to aides.
Biden’s campaign sees Obama as a clear asset as they seek to not only energize Democrats, but to also appeal to independents and more moderate Republicans who may be wary of four more years of Trump in the White House.
A recent Monmouth University poll found 57 percent of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. That includes 92 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans.
Obama’s favorable ratings are higher than either of the men who will be on the ballot in November. The same poll showed 41 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of Biden, and 40 percent viewed Trump in a favorable light.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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