Former Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg may have dropped out of the presidential race, but he’s now endorsed Joe Biden after a compelling conversation with former President Barack Obama.
According to The New York Times, after Buttigieg suspended his campaign Sunday evening, Obama reportedly spoke with him on the phone and advised him to use his “considerable leverage” ahead of Tuesday’s primary in 13 states.
The report is clear though that Obama was mindful to stop short of recommending an endorsement of the former Vice President specifically.
“Mr. Obama did not specifically encourage Mr. Buttigieg to endorse Mr. Biden, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations,” the Times said. “But Mr. Obama did note that Mr. Buttigieg has considerable leverage at the moment and should think about how best to use it.”
After delivering his concession speech last night in South Bend, Buttigieg spoke to both Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama by phone, two people familiar with the convos tell @jeffzeleny.
— Dan Merica (@merica) March 2, 2020
Buttigieg very directly criticized his then opponent days before the Iowa caucuses, when he responded to Biden suggesting nominating someone “new” would be a risk.
“I hear Vice President Biden saying that this is no time to take a risk on someone new,” Buttigieg said in Decorah, Iowa. “But history has shown us that the biggest risk we could take with a very important election coming up is to look to the same Washington playbook and recycle the same arguments — and expect that to work against a president like Donald Trump.”
CNN reported that their sources said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told his advisers after the call that he wanted to think about it overnight.
On Monday evening at a Biden campaign rally, Buttigieg officially gave his endorsement while standing next to the former VP, which will undoubtedly be seen by some as a rejection of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Thanks to incredibly strong showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Sanders is now seen as Biden’s biggest opponent.
“We are skeptical that an endorsement coming from us could truly change the political winds right now,” the person close to Obama told CNN. If Obama were to endorse Biden, the person said, there is “a very real chance it backfires.”
“He feels that he’s singularly positioned to help unify the party at the end of this,” the Obama confidant said. “And if he were try to put his thumb on the scale now, it would take away his ability to do so when it’s most needed — the general election.”