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Former President Barack Obama told aides this month that the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd are “a tailor-made moment” to help his former vice president Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in November.
According to a New York Times story based on interviews with more than 50 Obama confidants, the former president was made anxious after riots and looting rocked many American cities in the days following Floyd’s death and Trump began trumpeting “law and order” in response.
“Let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” Obama wrote in a Medium post earlier this month.
But Obama’s confidence has since grown as the protests have continued and Trump’s polling numbers have dipped. The Times cited sources who claim the former president does not challenge his former attorney general Eric Holder, who says Trump is a racist, and believes Trump engages in “racial demagoguery.”
“I don’t want a country in which the president of the United States is actively trying to promote anti-Asian sentiment and thinks it’s funny. I don’t want that. That still shocks and pisses me off,” Obama reportedly said in a private fundraiser last week, after Trump called the coronavirus “kung flu” during a Tulsa rally.
Trump has remained committed to running hard on law and order, signing an executive order last week to prohibit the desecration of statues and other public landmarks after dozens nationwide have been destroyed in recent weeks.
In conversations with Biden’s campaign, Obama has advised that the former vice president to limit his public engagements with short speeches and interviews to keep the focus on the Trump. He has also raised concerns about Biden’s durability, allegedly telling one Democrat donor that “I wasn’t even 50 when I got elected, and that job took every ounce of energy I had.”
When meeting with Democratic presidential candidates last fall, Obama reportedly told one of them that Biden “really doesn’t have it” when it comes to creating bonds with potential voters.