Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s most trusted aides, believes former Vice President Joe Biden would be a “terrific” president but stopped short of enforcing her former boss’s running mate.
“I think right now in the Democratic Party we have an embarrassment of riches,” Jarrett told BuzzFeed News in a sitdown interview released Friday. “I think it’s also early and I think in this campaign — unlike President Obama, where I got in very early because I’d known him forever, I was completely willing to jump in — I want to see how they do.”
Jarrett revealed she is in communication with several Democratic presidential campaigns in addition to Biden’s and has advised White House hopefuls to be themselves.
“It’s a gauntlet, and having now been through two presidential campaigns, I know what it takes to get in there and really earn the trust of the American people, and so I think I’ve talked to many of the candidates,” she said.
“Show us what it is that your vision is but also more importantly or just as importantly how are you going to execute on that vision,” she added. “What is it that you have in your talent bank that’s going to enable you to deliver on what you say you’re going to do.”
Jarrett has also warned candidates against overtly attacking one another, which she worries could leave the Democrat presidential nominee too wounded to take on President Donald Trump in the general election.
“Don’t beat up on the other guys and gals in the race so much that when we emerge from the primary with a nominee that that person is in a weakened state,” Jarrett stated. “Keep your eye on the prize, which is the general election.”
“I’m not interested in what you think about the other guy; I can formulate my own opinions about that person,” she added. “Tell me why I should believe in you.”
Hours after Biden launched his campaign for the White House, Obama praised his former vice president — but like Jarrett, he too stopped short of endorsing him as a candidate.
“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama said in a statement released through his spokeswoman Katie Hill. “He relied on the Vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaign and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”