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Barack Obama Tells Voters Why He Picked Joe Biden for VP — and How It Applies Now

The former president reflected on selecting his 2008 running mate, noting that the same qualities he saw in Biden back then make him “the kind of president I want” at this inflection point in history

<p>BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty</p> Former US President Barack Obama (L) and US President Joe Biden

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

Former US President Barack Obama (L) and US President Joe Biden

President Barack Obama says that the reasons he selected Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 are the same reasons he thinks Biden deserves to be reelected in 2024: his moral conviction and ability to find common ground even amid complex political issues.

Obama, 62, attended a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday evening with Biden and Bill Clinton to discuss the state of democracy and the upcoming election. During a Q&A between the presidents, Obama touched on Biden's positive traits — a topic that arose after protesters in the audience interjected with shouts of disapproval about how the White House has handled the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The disruption prompted the presidents to each speak on the Israel-Gaza war, but while Obama was responding, the protestors cut him off. "No, no listen. You can't just talk and not listen," Obama told the audience. "That's what the other side does. And it is possible for us to understand that it is possible to have moral clarity and have deeply held beliefs, but still recognize that the world is complicated and it is hard to solve these problems."

Related: Biden Calls for Two-State Solution, More Aid in Gaza: ‘Saving Innocent Lives Has to Be a Priority’

"The reason why I originally selected Joe Biden to be my vice president, the reason that I think he was one of the best vice presidents we've ever had, and the reason why I think he has been an outstanding president is because he has moral conviction and clarity," Obama continued.

"But he's also willing to acknowledge that the world is complicated, and that he's willing to listen to all sides in this debate and every other debate and try to see if we can find common ground. That's the kind of president I want."

Related: Joe Biden Says European Leaders Feared Strength of Their Own Democracies After Jan. 6: ‘Everybody Looks to Us’

<p>BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty</p> Stephen Colbert moderates a discussion between Presidents Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on March 28, 2024

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

Stephen Colbert moderates a discussion between Presidents Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on March 28, 2024

As protesters were escorted out of the event, Clinton took a turn addressing their concerns, saying, "I believe that this is one of the most important reasons to elect President Biden. And I'm going to tell you why. Because he genuinely cares about preserving the existence of Israel, which Hamas doesn't. And he genuinely cares about giving the Palestinians a decent state, self-governance and the support they need for self-determination."

"Look, the world we live in is hard because you have to keep two apparently conflicting ideas in your head at the same time," Clinton continued, adding that Biden has publicly voiced his support for a two-state solution, which centers on the establishment of two independent states: Israel and Palestine (currently, the Palestinian territories of Gaza and West Bank are occupied by Israel.)

Related: Biden Calls for Two-State Solution, More Aid in Gaza: ‘Saving Innocent Lives Has to Be a Priority’

"You should trust him to work for it," Clinton said. "To work to ease the suffering of the totally innocent Palestinian citizens, and not to allow Israel's security to be lost over a bitter difference between the legitimacy of the Palestinians to statehood, which we agree with, all three of us."

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Thursday night's Q&A covered several topics — including the economy, border security and the peaceful transfer of power — each of which led to the presidents emphasizing the difference between Biden and Donald Trump's leadership.

The event, hosted at New York's Radio City Music Hall and dubbed "An Evening with the Presidents," brought in an estimated $25 million for the Biden Victory Fund.

In addition to the Biden campaign tapping Stephen Colbert to moderate the presidents' discussion, it lined up Mindy Kaling as host and featured musical guests LizzoQueen LatifahBen PlattCynthia Erivo and Lea Michele.

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