Reports reveal Democratic concerns that Biden's campaign is ignoring successful example of Obama's 2012 re-election effort

January 21, 2024
Ben Marquis

Recent reports indicate a growing sense of concern and discontent among many Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, with the seemingly lackluster manner in which President Joe Biden and his team are running his 2024 re-election campaign.

Now comes word that one of the top drivers of Obama's reported concern is that Biden has stepped away from and ignored the example of their successful 2012 re-election strategy and sought to forge a separate path based on his 2020 campaign, according to the Daily Caller.

That perceived dismissive slight by Biden of the advice and example provided by Obama is in addition to the very real concerns harbored by the former president and many Democrats about the possibility that a resurgent former President Donald Trump will win a rematch election against a faltering Biden.

Team Obama has concerns about Team Biden's campaign

Politico reported last week on a meeting late last year of alumni from the Obama administration and 2012 campaign in which concerns were raised over the "real strategic differences" between their successful re-election campaign and the current effort underway by President Biden's team.

Obama's folks asserted that Biden's campaign was too "bare-bones" in comparison and lacked sufficient staffers in critical swing states or effective leadership at its headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, as well as that it appeared to be too closely modeled after Biden's 2020 "basement" campaign -- which occurred in the unique situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that is not applicable in the current cycle.

"The big issue I have is Biden never had an organization before. He didn’t have much in the Dem primary. Then the general was during Covid and no ground stuff was really done," explained an unnamed Obama 2012 battleground state director, who added that Biden "won’t have that luxury" this time around.

Another unnamed Democratic critic of Biden's current campaign said of the Obama alumni meeting last year, "The vibe was that the campaign didn’t have its s--t together," and, reflecting on the differences between 2012 and now, added, "There wasn’t infrastructure in the states. There wasn’t a beefed-up campaign headquarters. And compared to where Obama was in 2011, the campaign was fairly anemic."

Comparing campaign styles

In seeking to explain the disparity in the two re-election campaigns, Politico surmised that former President Obama is a "technocrat" who had at his disposal the "most sophisticated campaign machinery of the modern era" that made full and unprecedented use of "analytics" and "unmatched" field operations -- all of which was led by key senior Obama advisers from the campaign's headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.

In contrast, Biden was described as being more folksy and "down-to-earth" with a heavy reliance on his "instincts and guts" who has also leaned too much on the Democratic Party's institutions for support rather than building up his own campaign or allied outside organizations with experienced operatives -- as Obama did in 2012.

David Axelrod, the chief strategist of Obama's 2012 effort who hasn't been shy in voicing his criticism of Biden's current campaign, told the outlet, "There is a treasure trove of experience in that White House. I mean, one of the issues is it’s all in the White House," and to his point added, "Probably some of it should be sitting over at the campaign."

Obama raised his concerns directly with Biden

The Politico article appears to corroborate a piece from The Washington Post earlier this month about a White House lunch meeting involving the former and current Democratic presidents in which Obama reportedly raised some of the same concerns about the 2024 campaign directly with Biden.

Obama was said to have urged his former vice president to deploy more experienced leaders in the campaign and allow them the autonomy to make critical and time-sensitive decisions instead of seeking clearance first from the White House.

He was also said to have reiterated his worries that former President Trump was a "formidable" opponent with the capability to win re-election who needed to be taken more seriously by Biden's campaign.

However, all internal bickering and posturing aside, there should be little doubt that Obama and Biden and their respective teams and supporters will ultimately come together to form a united front against Trump's prospective return to the White House.

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