Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden recently met in person for a socially distant discussion on challenges facing the country, Biden’s campaign announced Wednesday morning.
The meeting took place on July 11 at Obama’s office in Washington, DC, according to a person familiar with the meeting, and the two discussed how the Democratic presumptive nominee would handle the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. The two limited their time together to the taping and did not spend much time together beyond that or discuss Biden’s potential running mates or the vice presidential search process, the person said.
The former vice president has criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which he repeatedly downplayed before recently taking a more serious tone.
When asked about the lag in coronavirus testing in March, Trump said, “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
In a short clip of the discussion released on Wednesday, Obama and Biden, who both wear masks as they enter the building, talk about Trump without mentioning him by name.
“Can you imagine standing up when you were President and saying ‘it’s not my responsibility. I take no responsibility.’ Literally. Literally,” Biden said in the video which marks the first time he and Obama have appeared together in person since the beginning of the campaign.
Obama replied, “Those words didn’t come out of our mouths while we were in office.”
“No. I don’t understand his inability to get a sense of what people are going through,” Biden said. “He just can’t, he can’t relate in any way.”
The full video of the discussion will be released Thursday.
The former President then praises Biden for his ability to relate with people.
“Well, and one of the things I have always known about you, Joe, it’s the reason why I wanted you to be my vice president, and the reason why you were so effective … it all starts with being able to relate,” Obama said.
“If you can sit down with a family and see your own family in them and the struggles that you’ve gone through or your parents went through or your kids are going through. If you can connect those struggles to somebody else’s struggles, then you’re going to work hard for them. And that’s always what’s motivated you to get into public service,” Obama added.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the campaign trail, with both campaigns pausing events at the beginning and hosting most events virtually. In recent weeks, the Trump campaign held in-person campaign events amid the surge in coronavirus cases but has since held virtual fundraisers and rallies.
This is the first known instance of Biden traveling outside of Delaware and Pennsylvania since the pandemic brought in-person campaigning to a standstill. Biden’s recent in-person campaign events have been limited to appearances with small groups of people, including a small contingency of reporters, in his home state and the neighboring battleground state of Pennsylvania.