Political commentator Keith Boykin has an issue with Joe Biden.
The author and former White House aide to President Bill Clinton called out the 2020 presidential candidate during a CNN discussion for his frequent references to former President Obama by his first name.
Discussing the Democrat’s campaign following his debate performance, Boykin on CNN’s “OutFront” expressed frustration with Biden’s “disrespectful” familiarity with the former president. CNN host Erin Burnett noted that the former vice president is “currently defining himself by Barack Obama,” running a short montage of recent “Barack and I” comments by Biden.
“Well, obviously President Obama still has a great deal of affection for his former vice president. I’m sure they like each other,” Boykin said. “But that doesn’t mean that he should be president — that Biden should be president of the United States. What Joe Biden’s got to do is he’s got to offer a message for why he should be the president for the future, not the president for the past.”
Boykin suggested that the Obama-era is done, and although Democrats are “pleased” with the former president, they “don’t want to have another Obama.”
“We want to have a new president to move the agenda forward. And having somebody who takes us backward is not helpful,” he added. “So if Biden wants to move his campaign forward he’s got to have new ideas, he can’t just rest on his laurels.”
Burnett noted a 10-point decline in support of the Democratic front-runner since the debate, but said that he’s reacted by “more and more going into the corner of Barack and I, Barack and I, Barack and I.”
“It’s clearly become a safe place. It’s like a security blanket in some ways,” former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki said. “And they do have a close relationship. They’re not daily text buddies or anything like that. But they did build a close relationship over many ups and downs for both of them in their lives.”
Psaki noted that Obama’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton in 2016 should be a lesson to Biden about how their friendship may not generate the support he is seeking. Burnett noted that “somebody else tried this game,” as she played a montage of moments during Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign in which she name-dropped the former president.
“In 2008, we had a candidate who ran for president and lost, served in the Obama Administration, then ran for president later on and became the Democratic nominee,” Boykin said, referring to Clinton. “Now we’re in 2020 cycle. We have another candidate who ran for president in 2008 and lost, who served in the Obama Administration and now wants to run for president.”
“It didn’t work the last time. It’s not going to work this time unless you have some other message to offer,” he added. “Democrats aren’t even likely to support that message unless you have something other to offer. And I know Biden is leading in the polls right now, but that is a very tenuous lead that could fall apart as soon as other candidates gain traction. ”
“Perhaps it is Joe Biden’s informality referring to President Obama as ‘Barack’ which might hurt him a little bit more,” Burnett wondered. “Someone you’re that personally close with — the lack of an endorsement almost seems to sting worse than someone you would have a formal relationship with.”
Boykin concluded with a final point about it not being “appropriate” for Biden to refer to the former president by his first name, regardless of their personal relationship.
“I do think that Joe Biden should refer to former President Obama as ‘President Obama,’ not as ‘Barack.’ It borders on being disrespectful,” he said. “Despite their close relationship I don’t think it’s appropriate for him to continue doing that.”
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