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Tipsheet

Report: There's 'Long-Simmering Tension' Between Obama, Biden Camps as Former President Visits WH Today

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will be back at the White House on Wednesday for a ceremony unveiling their official White House portraits.

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But the visit may be an uneasy one between Obama and Biden loyalists after the 44th president’s last appearance at the White House in April when he came to celebrate the Affordable Care Act. That event turned into a “stump speech, pep talk and a roast mixed into one,” The Washington Post described at the time. 

While WaPo said that same sort of atmosphere isn’t expected on Wednesday, it may still be one with underlying “tension, and even some jealousy, between the circles around Obama and Biden.”

When former president Barack Obama returned to the White House for the first time in April, he received a hero’s welcome from Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kissed Obama’s hand. White House staffers eagerly angled for photos. And Democrats celebrated the Affordable Care Act, the former president’s signature domestic-policy accomplishment.

Then Obama opened his remarks by saying, “Thank you, Vice President Biden.”

President Biden laughed and saluted, and Obama walked away from the podium and gave Biden a hug, vowing he was just making a joke. “That was all set up,” he said.

But for some longtime Biden staffers, the zinger punctured the celebratory mood. They saw the quip, intentional or not, as part of a pattern of arrogance from Obama and a reminder of the disrespect many felt from Obama’s cadre of aides toward Biden. [...]

Some Biden loyalists are resentful that Obama didn’t throw his weight behind Biden’s presidential aspirations, complaining that even now Obama’s team does not fully respect Biden. Obama loyalists are frustrated that Biden’s aides regularly boast of how they have avoided the mistakes of the Obama White House, such as failing to sufficiently tout the president’s accomplishments. (The Washington Post)

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The 1:30 p.m. ceremony marks a break in tradition, as the president in office typically hosts the event for his immediate predecessor, but that did not happen under President Trump. Whether that was due to enmity between the men or some other reason remains unclear.

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