'Obama brothers' unite against Biden as rumors of tensions persist: 'Hard to watch'

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Three former advisers to President Obama took aim at President Biden on Tuesday, as long-running rumors of tensions between the two men's camps persist.

Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, often referred to as the “Obama brothers” during their tenures in the White House, devoted much of their latest episode of “Pod Save America” to lashing out at Biden after his poor performance in the first presidential debate, and in a subsequent interview.

“I found it bad and, at times, very hard to watch,” Vietor said, referring to Biden’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last week, which was part of an effort by the president to appease critics who called for him to quit the presidential race.

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The Obama Brothers

Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor at Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on July 29, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (John Sciulli/Getty Images for Politicon)

“To be fair to Biden, I don’t think this interview could have solved the political problem that arose from the debate,” he said, adding that the interview “concerned him more” because Biden “struggled to speak clearly and coherently.”

Vietor argued that Biden had not crafted a compelling second-term agenda that could convince swing voters to support him over former President Trump, and that his explanations for his recent poor performance, such as travel and illness, did not fully address “the poor debate.”

Lovett agreed, saying the interview “was a difficult setting for him to pull off, even at his best, because it's hard to justify why it was more than a week after the debate, it was so brief, and he was only doing one.”

“The debate was a bad night. We all saw it,” he said. “The explanations are rather vague… It doesn't do anything to allay our concerns about what we saw that night. Does it? So the explanations don't add anything.”

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Presidents Obama and Biden

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden. (Getty Images)

“If you want to raise the stakes of an interview, it doesn’t have to be another example of you not understanding him, not because he’s soft, not because he’s mumbling, but because his train of thought doesn’t make sense,” he said. “The stakes are incredibly high. Trump is an incredible threat, but either he’s going to pursue this case or someone else is going to, and right now we have neither.”

Favreau said that while Biden’s interview was “more coherent than the debate,” he was “concerned” that Biden’s lack of urgency and message means he may not be able to make up for the debate in the future. He cited recent polls showing Biden trailing Trump in every key battleground state.

“What are you going to do to convince voters who are hesitating between Biden and Trump when you have this message with George Stephanopoulos?” he asked.

Vietor later said that “it seems obvious that we would have a better chance with someone else,” while Lovett argued that Biden was not “getting the message across effectively.”

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Biden addresses Pennsylvania church

President Joe Biden speaks during a church service at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Philadelphia (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“That George Stephanopoulos interview was painful to watch,” Lovett said. “It was a terrible interview. He did a terrible job of explaining why he’s in the race, what happened in the debate and why he’s the person who’s going to beat Trump. He did a terrible job.”

The comments come just a day after former Obama adviser David Axelrod said during a CNN appearance that Biden was “certain” to lose the race to Trump.

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“There are certain immutable facts in life,” Axelrod said of Biden’s age and leadership. “Those facts were painfully obvious in this debate. The president simply failed to accept them. He’s not going to win this race.”

Relations between current and former advisers to the Biden and Obama administrations have reportedly been strained in recent years, given the level of criticism aimed at the current president, as well as his being passed over for the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Obama, however, spent time defending Biden after his debate performance.

Fox News' Brian Flood and Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.

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