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“I would expect that continues through the course of President Biden’s presidency," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said

By Sean Neumann
March 23, 2021 02:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden greets former U.S. President Barack Obama upon arriving to Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today's inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Joe Biden (left) and Barack Obama share a first bump at Biden's inauguration
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama keep in touch and talk regularly over the phone, the White House's top spokesperson told reporters on Monday.

Obama, 59, and Biden, 78, spent eight years together in the White House from 2009 to 2017, when Obama was president and Biden was his vice president.

Now that the latter has taken over as the country's commander-in-chief, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the two Democratic leaders still "consult and talk about a range of issues" over the phone.

"They were not just the president and vice president," Psaki, 42, said during Monday's press briefing. "They are friends."

And, she added, "I would expect that continues through the course of President Biden's presidency."

Joe Biden, Barack Obama
Barack Obama (left) and Joe Biden in 2020
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Once rivals in the 2008 race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, the two politicians went on to share a well-documented kinship during their years working together.

Their bond was one of the enduring stories of that administration, where Biden had broad responsibility as the No. 2. By many accounts, he and Obama enjoyed a close relationship — though they had their differences in temperament and in approaches to policy-making, and there were frictions between aides and over old campaigns.

Obama joked they had a "bromance" during a speech in which he surprised then-Vice President Biden with the Medal of Freedom in 2017, before they left office. (Biden returned the favor in 2019 with a friendship bracelet for Obama on National Best Friend's Day.)

The question about how often the two speak now came about an hour before Obama was set to headline a virtual event with Protect Our Care, where he spoke about the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, passed in March 2010.

At the virtual event, Obama touted the work he and Biden accomplished with the ACA and said Biden's recent COVID-19 package, the American Rescue Plan, "built on the success we had in 2009 and 2010." (Republicans unsuccessfully opposed the stimulus bill, arguing it was excessive.)

Biden's plan was "consolidating, protecting, improving, and building upon the kind of health care that we need," Obama said.

"But we've still got more work to do — even with the American Rescue Plan," he continued. "Our success in the past should not be a source of complacency, but rather an inspiration to keep going until every single person in America has the kind of coverage that they need."

Barack OBama Joe Biden
Barack Obama (left) and Joe Biden
| Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

A reporter asked Psaki on Monday if there were any plans for Obama to take part specifically in Biden administration events in the future such as to advocate for continued work to expand affordable health care.

"I expect ... it's an issue they'll talk about," Psaki said, "given former President Obama's work on the Affordable Care Act [and] President Biden's commitment to expanding access to healthcare throughout his presidency."

Psaki indicated Obama had not visited the White House since Biden took office, however. 

"I think if President Obama had been here [at the White House], you would all know," she told reporters. "He's a recognizable figure."