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Joe Biden claims Barack Obama repeatedly discouraged him from running for US president

Ben Riley-Smith
Joe Biden, left, and Barack Obama - REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Barack Obama repeatedly discouraged Joe Biden from running for the presidency to clear the path for Hillary Clinton, the former US vice president has claimed. 

In his new memoirs published today, Mr Biden says that Mr Obama played up the appeal of leaving politics and gave little encouragement about a possible bid. 

He says that Mr Obama’s pollster effectively told him he had “no real path to the nomination” and that running for the White House would “rock the boat”. 

And Mr Biden even reveals suspicions that Mr Obama gave an “explicit commitment” of support to Mrs Clinton, believing she was best placed to secure his legacy. 

Eventually  Mr Biden declined to enter the race because of his son Beau’s death from cancer, clearing the way for Ms Clinton to clinch the Democratic nomination. 

Joe Biden, right, talks with his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015Credit: AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

However she would go on to lose the race to Donald Trump, ushering in a Republican president who has promised to dismantle key parts of Mr Obama’s legacy. 

Mr Biden makes clear he would have run his presidential pitch around protecting the middle classes and indicates he would have stood a better chance of defeating Mr Trump. 

The revelations, made in the book ‘Promise Me, Dad', mark one of the first time cracks have appeared in the so-called "bromance" between the pair, who led America for eight years. 

It comes with Mr Biden openly contemplating whether to run for president in 2020, saying in recent interviews that he is ruling nothing in or out. 

In the book, Mr Biden, who served as vice president from 2008 to 2016, emphasizes the depth of friendship he built with Mr Obama while in office. 

Barack Obama shares a laugh with Joe Biden during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in WashingtonCredit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

He reveals that Mr Obama shed tears as Mr Biden described his son’s battle with cancer – which is much of the book's focus – and even offered to pay for medial support.

However Mr Biden also details repeated attempts by Mr Obama to work out his intentions for the 2016 presidential race in an apparent attempt to dissuade him to run. 

Mr Biden writes: “In January 2015 the president was convinced I could not beat Hillary, and he worried that a long primary fight would split the party and leave the Democratic nominee vulnerable in the general election.”

Hilary Clinton, right, won the Democratic nomination for president but lost to Donald TrumpCredit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

He describes a private lunch where Mr Obama calls the presidency “the most confining thing in the world” and says he is looking forward to leaving politics, adding: “Joe, have you focused on that?”

At another lunch between the pair, Mr Biden snaps at Mr Obama’s probing, saying: “Look, Mr President, I understand if you’ve made an explicit commitment to Hillary and to Bill Clinton”. 

Elsewhere Mr Biden interprets Mr Obama’s remarks when Mrs Clinton declares as a “coordinated, nonendorsement endorsement”, and says the president’s team was implying “if she almost beat us … she will definitely beat you”. 

Mr Biden also summarises advice given by Mr Obama’s own "trusted" pollster: “The message I took from that meeting was that Hillary’s poll numbers, her money, and her campaign organization were just too formidable. I had no real path to the nomination, so why rock the boat and complicate things for the party?”

Mr Biden says he “never took issue” with Mr Obama’s stance, but makes clear he believes he would have stood a better chance than Mrs Clinton of defeating Mr Trump. 

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