Obama has no plans to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 primary, report says

Neither former President Barack Obama nor former First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to endorse a candidate during the 2020 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times.

  • Privately, however, Obama is meeting with declared or potential candidates, offering candid advice — and according to a Politico report, he has been since 2018.
  • Potential candidate Beto O'Rourke, the former congressman representing El Paso and former Senate candidate, gave a window into his meeting with Obama in a recent interview with Oprah.
  • "You asked if he encouraged me to — he did not," Mr. O’Rourke said in response to Oprah's question if Obama had encourage him to run for president. “But he was very generous in sharing what his thought process was, leading up to that decision."

Neither former President Barack Obama nor former First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to endorse a candidate during the 2020 Democratic primary, The New York Times reported.

Privately, however, Obama is meeting with declared or potential candidates, and according to a Politico report he has been since 2018.

The Times reported that "more than a dozen" hopefuls — including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, along with the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, and the former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg — have met with Obama.

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Obama makes first post-presidency visit to Kenya to launch youth center
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Obama makes first post-presidency visit to Kenya to launch youth center
Former US President, Barak Obama (3L) poses for a picrure with his step-grandmother Sarah (C) and half-sister, Auma (2R) and some of the local youth on July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the east african nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President, Barak Obama (R) interacts with some of the local young beneficiaries July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the east African nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Nyang'oma village in Kogelo wave US flags as they gather by the side of the road to wait for former US President, Barack Obama to arrive on July 16, 2018 for the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the East African nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Nyang'oma village in Kogelo wave US flags as they gather by the side of the road to wait for former US President, Barack Obama to arrive on July 16, 2018 for the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the East African nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President, Barack Obama (C) with his step-grandmother Sarah (2R) and half-sister, Auma (L) arrive to unveil a plaque on July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the east african nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President, Barack Obama (C) with his step-grandmother Sarah (2R) and half-sister, Auma (L) arrive to unveil a plaque on July 16, 2018 during the opening of the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama at Kogelo in Siaya county, western Kenya. - Obama is in the east african nation for the first time since he left the US presidency and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama addresses delegates at the basketball court during the launch of Sauti Kuu resource centre near his ancestral home in Nyangoma Kogelo village in Siaya county, western Kenya July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Former U.S. President Barack Obama seats with delegates at the basketball court during the launch of Sauti Kuu resource centre near his ancestral home in Nyangoma Kogelo village in Siaya county, western Kenya July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Former U.S. President Barack Obama reacts as he addresses players at the basketball court during the launch of Sauti Kuu resource centre near his ancestral home in Nyangoma Kogelo village in Siaya county, western Kenya July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Former U.S. President Barack Obama addresses players at the basketball court during the launch of Sauti Kuu resource centre near his ancestral home in Nyangoma Kogelo village in Siaya county, western Kenya July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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Potential candidate Beto O'Rourke, former congressman representing El Paso and former Senate candidate, gave a window into his meeting with Obama in a recent interview with Oprah.

"You asked if he encouraged me to — he did not," Mr. O’Rourke said in response to Oprah's question if Obama had encourage him to run. “But he was very generous in sharing what his thought process was, leading up to that decision."

Those close to Obama who spoke to The Times, and his former chief strategist David Axelrod, who was not speaking on behalf of the former president, have said that he won't make an endorsement. Even former Vice President Joe Biden, who may make a 2020 run, doesn't expect to get the Obama nod.

He's not short on advice, though.

"President Obama counsels candidates to always show up and make their case even in areas or in front of audiences they may not necessarily win; express views and positions that reflect their genuine beliefs; and share a positive vision for the country true to their own personal story," senior advisor Eric Schultz told The Times.

Since leaving office, Obama has been calculated in his public remarks (wary of becoming a foil for President Donald Trump). His forays into Washington politics have been few. They include campaigning for Democrats during the 2018 primary, and responding to a December ruling on his signature healthcare bill.

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