Barack Obama spent several hours last Friday in the family dining room of the White House, visiting his former vice president, Joe Biden. The occasion was hardly just two old friends catching up.

Barack Obama spent several hours last Friday in the family dining room of the White House, visiting his former vice president, Joe Biden. The occasion was hardly just two old friends catching up.

Obama has made clear to associates in recent months that he believes Biden’s intensifying re-match with Donald Trump in November will be incredibly close, and that the 2024 election marks an “all-hands-on-deck” moment, people familiar with his thinking told CNN. To that end, his return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last week was largely a working visit.

Biden and Obama, along with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, participated in an organizing call in the White House residence heralding the 14th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. “We have the chance to do even more, but that only happens if we send Joe and Kamala back to the White House in November,” Obama said in the video. “So, we’ve got to keep working.”

The campaign also recorded other content featuring the two presidents, sources said, that they plan to roll out in the coming weeks.

Obama and Biden speak with regularity, sources said, and the former president remains in direct contact with some top White House officials, including Biden’s chief of staff, Jeff Zients, who worked in the Obama administration.

The former president has lent an occasional hand to Biden since the current president’s reelection announcement last year, particularly through public fundraising appeals and in quiet conversations in hopes of allaying concern from some Democrats about Biden seeking a second term. His engagement with the Biden campaign is expected to intensify as the general election kicks into higher gear, and aides said he has already agreed to several campaign appearances before November as he works to help rebuild Biden’s winning coalition from 2020.

Obama’s biggest embrace of Biden’s reelection effort comes Thursday at a star-studded Manhattan fundraiser featuring Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton. The three presidents will sit for a rare conversation, moderated by Stephen Colbert.

It will hardly be routine meeting of the Presidents Club, and when Clinton and Obama take the stage at Radio City Music Hall, their appearance will underscore the extraordinary moment in American history as a sitting president is locked in a bitter fight to keep his predecessor from returning to the White House.

“No one can speak to disillusioned Democrats better than President Obama,” a senior strategist who has worked closely with Obama and Biden told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to be candid about the campaign. “But there are limits to what Obama can do. The burden to win this race is still on President Biden.”

Attending the sold-out, high-dollar event Thursday night will be numerous celebrities and artists like Queen Latifah, Lizzo, Cynthia Erivo, Mindy Kaling, Ben Platt and Lea Michele, according to the campaign. The evening will be overseen by high-profile producers Jordan Roth and Alex Timbers, and tickets will range from $225 to $500,000.

Capitalizing the rare joint appearance of Biden and two of his predecessors, the campaign is offering some of the high-dollar guests the opportunity to get their photographs taken with all three presidents by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Obama’s appeal and popularity as one of the best-known national Democrats has been undeniable. The campaign’s grassroots fundraising efforts featuring the former president have raised over $15 million so far this cycle, with a “Meet the Presidents” contest featuring Biden and Obama alone hauling in some $3 million, according to the campaign.

For the next seven months, a specific area of focus for Obama will be making fundraising appeals and helping to motivate young Americans, particularly Black and Latino voters, who are seen by campaign advisers as a weak spot for Biden’s candidacy.

Obama has no plans to hit the stump aggressively until the fall, when early voting begins, following a pattern he has adopted since leaving office. Saving the former president until the end of the race – at the time when voters are paying the most attention – is how Obama and his advisers believe he can be the most effective.

No firm travel plans have yet been made, aides said, but the former president is likely to visit college campuses in the fall as well as major cities in battleground states.

Obama has not been shy in voicing his concern about Israel’s war in Gaza, which has become one of Biden’s biggest challenges – both in foreign policy and in domestic politics. That, along with reproductive rights, will be the chief focus of Obama’s pitch to voters.

Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager who has been serving as a close adviser to the Biden reelection campaign, told CNN that his former boss plans to do whatever he can to help Biden secure a second term at the White House. That mission, Messina said, has only been made significantly more urgent by Trump’s emergence as the presumptive Republican nominee.

“President Obama once said to me that every president is a reflection of the previous president, and he’s right,” Messina said. “Trump was the complete opposite of Obama, and Biden is the complete opposite of Trump. Being the president of the United States means you’re part of a small club; there is no other group of people whose red flags about the direct threat of Donald Trump should be taken more seriously.”

Obama has been unambiguous about his willingness to be of service to his former vice president’s reelection efforts, one senior Biden adviser told CNN.

“He has been generous with his time, and he has made it very clear that he is all in on this campaign,” the adviser said.


WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden needs advice, there are two people he can turn to who know what it’s like to sit in his chair. Sometimes he will invite Barack Obama over to the White House for a meal or he will get on the phone with Bill Clinton.

The three men share decades of history at the pinnacle of American and Democratic leadership, making them an unusual trio in presidential history. Although there has sometimes been friction as their ambitions and agendas have diverged, they have spent years building toward a similar vision for the country.

On Thursday, their partnership will be on display in what has been described as a one-of-a-kind fundraising extravaganza in New York City to help Biden build on his already significant cash advantage in this year’s presidential election. It’s a dramatic show of force intended to rally the Democratic Party faithful to secure a second term for Biden despite his stubbornly low poll numbers and doubts due to his age (81).

“There is everything to be gained by Joe Biden standing next to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama,” said Leon Panetta, who worked in the administrations of both former presidents. “That picture is worth a hell of a lot in politics today.”

The display of solidarity is a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s isolation from other Republican leaders.

Although Trump has solidified his grip on his party on the way to becoming the presumptive nominee, not even his own former vice president, Mike Pence, is willing to endorse Trump’s bid for another White House term. The only other living Republican president, George W. Bush, is not a supporter, either.

It’s a far different situation with Biden, Obama and Clinton. When they haven’t been campaigning against each other, they’ve been working together.

At one point, all three of them were on a collision course during the Democratic presidential primary in 2008. Biden and Obama sought the nomination, as did Clinton’s wife, Hillary. Obama came out on top, and chose Biden as his vice president and Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state.

As Obama’s two terms were ending and the 2016 election was approaching, he nudged Hillary Clinton to the forefront as his preferred successor and dissuaded Biden from running after Biden’s elder son died of cancer. Clinton lost to Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020. Obama privately helped clear a path for Biden to the Democratic nomination that year.

There have been notable splits between the presidents on key issues. Biden was unsuccessful in persuading Obama not to send more troops to Afghanistan in 2009. U.S. forces remained in the country until 2021, when Biden withdrew them during his first year in office.

The three presidents have often focused on the same goals in a sort of legislative relay race. Clinton failed to significantly expand health care access during his presidency, which ran from 1993 to 2001. Obama picked up the baton when he took office in 2009 and signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010.

Biden called the law a “big … deal” — inserting an infamous expletive in the middle of that thought — and built on it when he began his own term in 2021. He signed legislation that included financial incentives for states to expand Medicaid, prompting North Carolina to take the belated step last year, more than a decade after the Affordable Care Act made it possible.

Between Clinton, Obama and Biden, “they’ve seen the sweep of Democratic history together in ways that not everybody has,” said Gene Sperling, a longtime economic adviser.

Sperling is among the administration officials who have served all three presidents. Another member of those ranks is John Podesta, currently a global climate envoy for Biden who was Clinton’s chief of staff and an environmental adviser to Obama.

Podesta said all three have tried to improve the lives of working Americans.

“Each one of them, when they close the door on the Oval Office, that’s what mattered to them the most,” he said.

But their styles aren’t the same. While Obama was more reserved, Biden and Clinton draw energy from chatting up people on rope lines and forging deep personal relationships.

Panetta suggested that Biden, broadly unpopular in public polling, should try to pick up a few tips from his Democratic predecessors, both of whom served two terms.

“The fundamental reason they got reelected is that they were able to connect with the American people,” he said. “Joe Biden clearly needs to do that.”

The only living Democratic president who will not be in New York for the fundraiser is 99-year-old Jimmy Carter. A spokeswoman for Carter confirmed that he remains in home hospice care and is not making any public statements.