A day after participating in his second contentious Democratic presidential-primary debate of the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden admitted that he was caught off guard by the “degree of the criticism” directed at his friend and former boss, President Barack Obama.
“I was a little surprised at how much incoming there was about Barack, about the president,” Biden told reporters Thursday. “I’m proud of having served him. I’m proud of the job he did. I don’t think there’s anything he has to apologize for.”
Biden has invoked the former president throughout his presidential campaign and continued to defend Obama’s record Thursday.
“He [Obama] changed the dialogue, he changed the whole question, he changed what was going on. And the idea that somehow it’s comparable to what [Trump] is doing is absolutely bizarre,” Biden said later.
Of his rivals’ attacks on his own record, Biden said he’d “expected” them.
The former vice president was taken to task Wednesday evening by several of fellow presidential contenders over the Obama administration’s record on deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Obama upped deportations during his administration, deporting or removing more than 5 million undocumented immigrants, fewer than the Clinton and Bush administrations did but more than the Trump administration has.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Cory Booker, and Julian Castro — who served as Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development — all criticized Biden’s involvement in the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
“Did you say those deportations were a good idea or did you go to the president and say, ‘This is a mistake, we shouldn’t do it’?” de Blasio asked Biden, who responded that he would decline to reveal his private comments to Obama on the issue.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Booker piled on. “You invoke President Obama more than anyone in this campaign; you can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.”