Former President Barack Obama returned to the White House on Tuesday for the first time since the morning of former President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Obama returned for an event celebrating the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which he first signed into law back in 2010. Tuesday’s event saw President Joe Biden sign an executive order aimed at strengthening the ACA so that health care can be more affordable and accessible to Americans.
The afternoon saw many light-hearted quips between Obama and Biden, with the former beginning his remarks by jokingly referring to the current president as “Vice President Biden.”
“It feels like the good old days,” Biden said at one point, after Obama noted that “it is good to be back in the White House.”
Though Biden has been in office for over one year, Tuesday marked the first time he invited Obama to return to the White House. The Biden-Obama event coincides with the upcoming midterm elections — something many predict could be bad news for Democrats.
With Biden’s approval ratings remaining low as the midterm elections near, bringing Obama to the White House may be a strategic move, CNN noted. Though the ACA prompted major losses for Democrats in 2010 and 2014, its perception has since softened, data from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates.
While Biden and Obama publicly reaffirmed their reputation as being “best friends,” their relationship hasn’t been without drama.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 9, 2019
In 2020, Biden criticized Obama for not being critical enough of tech companies, noting that “there are places where he and I have disagreed.” The former president, meanwhile, commented on the border crisis still unfolding under Biden during an ABC News interview in September 2021.
“As big-hearted as he is, nobody understands that better than Joe Biden,” Obama said after suggesting the the country is now at a crossroads on whether real change will be enacted. “And the question is now: Are we gonna get serious about dealing with this problem in a systemic way, as opposed to these one-offs where we’re constantly reacting to emergencies? And I think that that’s something that every American should wanna put an end to.”
Obama continued on to admit that the crisis “is a painful reminder that we don’t have this right yet and we’ve got more work to do.” He added the idea of “open borders is … unsustainable” and called the issue of immigration “tough.”
Obama ultimately endorsed Biden for president in April 2020 after abstaining from doing so for months.
Still, White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the two remain closely in touch, noting in March 2021 that Biden and his policy teams are in “regular touch” with Obama “a range of issues.” (RELATED: Obama Says Biden Has Most Left-Wing Platform Of Any Major Nominee In History)
“They are real friends, not just Washington friends,” Psaki added Monday. “I’m sure they will talk about events in the world as well as their families and personal lives.”