'Obama bros' gang up on Biden as longstanding rumors of tension linger: 'Hard to watch'

Three former Obama advisers' criticism of Biden continues the reportedly strained state of relations between the two men's camps

Published July 9, 2024 6:35pm EDT
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Three former advisers to President Obama took aim at President Biden Tuesday as longstanding rumors of tension between the two men's camps continue to linger.

Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, who were often referred to as the "Obama bros" during their tenure in the White House, dedicated the majority of their latest "Pod Save America" episode to ganging up on Biden following his poor performance in the first presidential debate, and in a subsequent interview.

"I thought it was bad, and, at times, very hard to watch," Vietor said, referencing Biden's sit-down interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos last week that came as part of an effort by the president to quell critics calling for him to exit the presidential race.

Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center on July 29, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (John Sciulli/Getty Images for Politicon)

"In fairness to Biden, I don't think that interview could have solved the political problem that stemmed from the debate," he said, adding the interview made him "more concerned" because Biden "struggled to speak in a clear, coherent way."

Vietor argued Biden didn't articulate a compelling second-term agenda that would sway swing voters to support him over former President Trump, and that his explanations for his recent poor performance, such as travel and sickness, didn't fully answer for "how bad the debate was."

Lovett agreed and said the interview "was a hard setting for him to succeed, even at his absolute best, because it's hard to justify why it was more than a week after the debate, that it was so brief, and he was only doing one."

"The debate was just a bad night. We all saw it," he said. "The explanations are kind of vague… That doesn't do enough to assuage our concerns about what we saw that night. Right? So, the explanations don't offer anything."

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden. (Getty Images)

"If you're going to raise the stakes on one interview, it can't be another example of you being hard to understand, not because he's soft, not because he's mumbling, but because his train of thought doesn't make sense," he said. "The stakes are incredibly high. Trump is an incredible threat, but either he will prosecute that case, or someone else will, and right now, we get neither."

Favreau said that although Biden's interview was "more coherent than the debate," he was "worried" Biden's lack of urgency and message meant he might not be able to make up for the debate going forward. He cited recent polling showing Biden trailing Trump in every key swing state.

"What are you going to do to win over voters who are undecided between Biden and Trump when you have that message with George Stephanopoulos?" he asked.

Vietor later said it "seems like a clear-cut choice that we'd have a better chance with someone else," while Lovett argued Biden wasn't "delivering the message effectively."

President Joe Biden speaks at a church service at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Philadelphia  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

"That George Stephanopoulos interview was painful to watch," Lovett said. "It was a terrible interview. He did a terrible job articulating why he's in the race, what happened at the debate, and why he's the person to beat Trump. He's doing a terrible job."

The comments come just a day after former Obama adviser David Axelrod said during an appearance on CNN that Biden was "certain" to lose the race to Trump.

"There are certain immutable facts of life," Axelrod said while discussing Biden's age and leadership. "Those were painfully obvious on that debate stage. The president just… hasn't come to grips with it. He’s not winning this race."

Relationships between former and current advisers from the Biden and Obama administrations have reportedly been strained in recent years given the level of criticism aimed at the current president, as well as that he was passed over for the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Obama has, however, spent time defending Biden following his debate performance.

Fox News' Brian Flood and Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.

Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on X at @BGillespieAL.