- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

Former President Barack Obama has returned with a fury to the campaign trail for his former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, embracing the roles of party savior, motivational speaker and champion.

He made his in-person 2020 campaign debut Wednesday in Philadelphia and is slated to stump Saturday in Miami.

It marks a role reversal from the 2008 and 2012 elections when Mr. Obama led the ticket into back-to-back elections, and Mr. Biden served as a loyal warrior — helping the Illinois Democrat fill out some of the experience gaps in his resume.

Mr. Obama is helping to balance things out this go-round.

He’s offering up the lofty, sharp-witted and humorous rhetoric that has made him the darling of the party and inspired a winning coalition of people of color, women and young voters.

Christy Setzer, a Democratic strategist, said Mr. Obama’s star power makes him a valuable Biden campaign asset.

“I suspect Team Biden will use Obama to shore up the few demos that haven’t improved from 2016 — notably, men of color — and to encourage young voters to turn in their ballots,” she said. “I also assume he’ll play a big role if Trump refuses to have a peaceful transfer of power, just as George W. Bush has said he’ll do.”

Mr. Obama’s return is doubling as a chance to defend a legacy the Trump administration has been targeting for years.

Mr. Trump abandoned the Paris Climate accord, canceled the free-trade Transpacific Partnership, pushed to scrap Obamacare, and targeted his DACA deportation amnesty for “Dreamers,” immigrants who illegally came to the U.S. as children.

Before his rise to power, Mr. Trump promoted “birther” theories questioning Mr. Obama’s birth and thus eligibility to be president.

Speaking Wednesday in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama said character matters. He said Mr. Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris could bring dignity back to the White House and put working families first.

“You’ll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president is not going to retweet conspiracy theories about secret cabals running the world or that maybe SEALs didn’t actually kill bin Laden,” Mr. Obama said.

“We’re not going to have a president that goes out of his way to insult anybody who doesn’t support him or threaten them with jail,” he said. “That’s not normal presidential behavior.”

Mr. Obama said Mr. Trump has treated the presidency like a “reality show,” messing up the strong economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden administration and blowing the coronavirus response.

“But the thing is, this is not a reality show, this is reality,” he said. “The rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

The Trump campaign fired back, saying Mr. Biden is relying on reinforcements because he is “not up to the rigors of campaigning for president.” They said the Democratic duo are reeling from news reports over Hunter Biden’s overseas business deals, including in China.

“There’s a reason Obama waited until there were no Democrats left in the primaries before he finally endorsed Joe Biden,” Trump 2020 spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. “It’s because Biden has been a failure for 47 years in Washington and is now compromised by the Communist Party of China.”

Mr. Murtaugh said Mr. Obama cannot defend Mr. Biden’s “record of putting foreign interests ahead of working Americans in bad trade policies, crushing our energy jobs under massive regulations, killing manufacturing jobs, and refusing to enforce our borders.”

Timothy Naftali, former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, said Mr. Obama is “playing the role of the scrappy vice presidential candidate,” allowing Mr. Biden to be the presidential candidate that projects “decency and unity.”

Mr. Naftali said on CNN on Thursday Mr. Obama’s goal is to convince disaffected or apathetic Democrats not to sit on their hands.

“I think he was persuading people to vote,” he said on CNN. “To some extent, I think it will affect the turnout. Will it be enough? I don’t know.”

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