Former President Barack Obama displayed a pair of red boxing gloves, signed by Muhammad Ali, in his Illinois Senate suite, took them to the White House and then to his post-presidential office in Washington.
In the Illinois Senate office, Obama put the gloves under a big photo of Ali standing over Sonny Liston after landing a blow in one of their famous fights.
You can see a glimpse of the gloves in some of the shots of the video released Thursday of Obama having a “socially distanced” conversation with Joe Biden, his vice president, who will become the Democratic nominee in August.
The video was recorded earlier this month by Obama’s video team at his office. Though they speak regularly, it was the first in-person meeting since Biden clinched the nomination in April.
The video packs a punch Biden needs.
It’s the argument why Biden would be the steady president in these calamitous times, the opposite of what’s happening now with President Donald Trump at the helm.
The nostalgic look back at the Obama years and Obama’s vouching for Biden is used to preview issues and policies to be championed by a President Biden.
Stuff, in general, most likely to jazz-up Democratic voters
Buddies Obama and Biden are a tag-team jabbing Trump as the popular Obama takes on an increasing role in boosting Biden. Last month, a fundraiser Obama headlined raised $7.6 million with 120,000 people logged in for the virtual event.
The video opens as they emerge, in slow motion, from separate black SUVs in a garage.
Then they appear, masked, getting out of separate elevators. They sit, with many feet between them, talking about presidential leadership – in short, they have it, Trump does not.
Biden: “Can you imagine standing up when you were president, saying, “It’s not my responsibility”? “I take no responsibility”? I mean, literally…”
Obama: “Those words didn’t come out of our mouths, while we were in office.”
Biden: “I don’t understand his inability to get a sense of what people are going through. He just can’t, he can’t relate in any way.”
Obama: “Well, and one of the things that I have always known about you, Joe, it’s the reason why I wanted you to be my vice president and the reason why you were so effective — it all starts with being able to relate….”
Trump’s name is not mentioned in the video, but you get the reference to “this guy,” as they talk about Trump’s missteps.
Biden: “But this guy’s in court, in the middle of a pandemic, trying to take away the protection for a hundred million people who have preexisting conditions. I don’t think he has any sense of empathy or any — I don’t think he can associate at all.”
Obama: “You and I had experience dealing with health crises — public health crisis — and in each instance, what you and I understood and why I have so much confidence that you’re going to be able to deal with a COVID in the way that other countries, with our kinds of resources that are dealing with it right now, which is smartly. I have confidence that you’re going to actually listen to the experts.”
Not that everything they did was perfect. Obama on Obamacare likened it to a “a starter house” that could, over time, be improved.
Eric Schultz, an Obama spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We put a lot of time and thought into figuring out how to make this work. First and foremost, of course, was protecting the Vice President and making sure we didn’t risk his health.
“But we also wanted to model, best practices. Considering how many millions of people would be watching this, in sending a message that you can still be social, and safe. At the same time...the challenge was capturing the chemistry between the two leaders, but in a way that was consistent with social distance protocols.
“…The goal is to discuss the biggest challenges facing the country today. And Joe Biden’s plans to tackle each of them and package it in a way that we’re still able to generate attention,” Schulz said.
The video runs 15 minutes and 50 seconds. The shoot lasted more than an hour, so there is probably more Obama/Biden footage to be released later.
Obama and Biden didn’t land a knock-out punch on Trump. They’re taking their time. When it comes to Trump, Obama and Biden showed they know a thing or two about translating Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy into the political ring.