In an interview with The New Yorker, Obama said, “If you look at Joe Biden’s goals and Bernie Sanders’s goals, they’re not that different, from a forty-thousand-foot level.”
“They both want to make sure everybody has health care. They want to make sure everybody can get a job that pays a living wage. They want to make sure every child gets a good education,” he added.
Biden cast himself as a moderate during the Democratic presidential primary, but he has adopted slightly more progressive policies in a bid to unite the two factions of the party.
Obama said Biden’s decision to adopt policies that are more progressive is a strategic decision, “A lot of times, the issue has to do with ‘How do we go about that, and what are the coalitions we need?'”
“What I think the moment has done is to change some of those calculations, not because necessarily Joe’s changed but because circumstances have changed,” he added.
Obama also addressed the tensions between the moderate and progressive wings of the party that have boiled up in recent years, “You have a big-tent party. And that means that you tolerate, listen to, and embrace folks who are different than you, and try to get them in the fold.”
“And so you work with not just liberal Democrats, but you work with conservative Democrats—and you are willing to compromise on issues,” he added.
Throughout the campaign, Biden has moved leftward on a series of policies but has mostly managed to avoid been easily caricatured as a radical left-wing politician.
President Donald Trump has tried to paint Biden as a ““puppet of left-wing extremists” who want to “erase our borders, eliminate our police, indoctrinate our children, vilify our heroes, take away our energy … destroy our Second Amendment, attack the right to life, and replace American freedom with left-wing fascism.”
However, recent polls have found that a majority of voters say they view Biden as moderate.