Barack Obama emerges as a central figure in the 2020 presidential race

WASHINGTON: Almost eight years after your last vote, Barack Obama He is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential elections.

Democrats are enthusiastically embracing Obama as a political wing for Joe Biden , who spent two terms at his side as vice president. Obama remains the most popular figure in the party, particularly among black voters and younger Democrats, and Biden's presidential campaign is planning to have a highly visible role in the coming months.

For president Donald trump That means an opportunity to focus attention on one of your favorite political foils. In recent days, Trump and his allies have aggressively pushed conspiracy theories about Obama designed to ignite the president's conservative base, taint Biden by association, and distract himself from the excess of grim economic and health news of the pandemic.

Supporters on both sides want to do this about Obama, said Ned Price, who served as a spokesman for the Obama White House National Security Council.

Obama's renewed political focus sets the stage for an election about the nation's future that will also be about his past. As Biden searches for Obama for personal validation, he is also running to restore part of the former president's legacy, which Trump has systematically dismantled. The current president is running in part to finish that job.

However, Trump's anti-Obama drive also often takes on a darker, more conspiratorial tone that goes far beyond differences in health care policy and America's role in the world. Their current focus is on the actions that Obama, Biden and their national security advisers took in the last days of their administration, as they watched intelligence reports on Michael Flynn. Flynn had a short life as Trump's national security adviser before being fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The Trump administration itself acknowledged Wednesday that Obama's aides followed proper procedures to privately unmask Flynn's name, which was redacted in intelligence reports for privacy reasons. Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, although Trump's Justice Department moved last week to drop the case against him.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Obama, Biden or other administration officials, Trump is enthusiastically pushing the notion of an unspecified crime against the former president, calling it Obamagate. It is backed by Republican allies, including the Iowa senator. Chuck grassley who went to the Senate this week to ask about the Flynn affair: What did Obama and Biden know and when did they find out?

Trump's zeal has raised fears among some former Obama and Biden advisers about how far he could be willing to use the government's levers to push his case against them in an election year. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the origins of the Russian investigation that caught Flynn and other Trump associates.

Trump's renewed focus on Obama comes as Republicans become increasingly anxious that the growing death toll from coronavirus and the crater economy will damage the President's reelection prospects in November. More than 84,000 Americans have died from the virus, and more than 30 million have declared unemployment.

Biden's campaign established a direct connection between the president's attacks on Obama and the twin crises that plagued his administration.

Not surprisingly, the president is erratically attacking President Obama, desperate to distract himself from his own failures as commander-in-chief who have cost thousands of Americans their lives during this crisis, said TJ Ducklo, spokesman for the Biden campaign.

Trump's emphasis on Obama also comes as the former president begins to emerge from a three-year period of political restraint as he prepares to take on his role as Biden's primary replacement. Last week, Obama told a large gathering of alumni of his administration that the DOJ's decision to drop the Flynn case put the rule of law at risk. He also criticized Trump's White House handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden's campaign has been eager to involve Obama in the election, though his exact role is still forming, particularly given that the pandemic has altered campaign plans for protests and other events in person in the battlefield states. . The former president is also expected to campaign for Democratic House and Senate candidates across the country.

Although Obama campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, he has mostly tried to avoid open politics since leaving the White House. He has spoken publicly against Trump on rare occasions, frustrating many Democrats who have wanted him to be more aggressive in calling his successor.

But the 2020 election was always glimpsed as the time when Obama would pull away from the activity, and he told advisers he is eager to do so. Despite his strident public neutrality during the Democratic primaries, he spoke to Biden regularly and has continued to do so as the campaign progresses to the general election, according to attendees.

The Biden campaign sees Obama as a clear asset as they seek not only to energize Democrats, but also to attract the more moderate Independents and Republicans who may be wary of Trump's four more years in the White House.

A recent Monmouth University poll found that 57% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. That includes 92% of Democrats and 19% of Republicans.

Obama's favorable ratings are higher than any of the men who will be on the ballot in November. The same poll showed that 41% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Biden, and 40% viewed Trump in a favorable light.