Hmmm: Buttigieg scores three key ObamaWorld endorsements

Looks like Mayor Pete “stole” more than just a health-care plan from Joe Biden. In fact, Pete Buttigieg might be burglarizing the White House Biden served for eight years, a few items at a time. CNN reports this morning that Buttigieg has landed three key endorsements from the Barack Obama administration, including the former president’s famous “body man” and confidante:

Obama’s former special assistant and personal aide Reggie Love is endorsing Buttigieg, the campaign said. Love, who began his time with Obama as deputy political director in his Senate office, was a ubiquitous presence at Obama’s side during the 2008 presidential campaign and at the White House through most of his first term. The endorsement is a boost for Buttigieg from a high profile African American official from Obama’s orbit at a time when the South Bend mayor is working to build support with black voters.

Buttigieg is also being formally endorsed by Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, and Linda Douglass, the former director of communications for the White House Office of Health Reform.

The Obama-era endorsements come at a time when Buttigieg is increasingly emphasizing parallels between his candidacy and Obama’s 2008 run. Buttigieg has noted that both he and Obama are running on a message of hope and unity and are also running as relatively young candidates new to the political scene.

All three of these are significant defections, but Love’s almost certainly matters the most. His personal closeness to Obama for several years will lend much more credence to Buttigieg’s pretenses at being Obama’s natural successor in the Hope and Change business. Love’s endorsement could prompt African-American voters to rethink their distance from Mayor Pete, or at the very least could hint that Biden doesn’t enjoy as much of Obama’s confidence as his natural successor as Biden likes to imply.

The other two endorsements also matter. Having Douglass climb aboard the Buttigieg Express right after the contretemps over Buttigieg’s embrace of the discarded ObamaCare public option undercuts Biden’s claim of primacy on the issue. Douglass was an important part of the messaging team that sold ObamaCare in the first place.

Goolsbee was already a well-known center-left economist when he joined Team Obama in the 2008 cycle. Goolsbee lent his credibility to Obama’s economic proposals and helping to counter Hillary Clinton’s establishment advantage in the Democratic primaries. His endorsement does the same for Buttigieg, who needs even more cover for being a mid-size-town mayor rather than a first-term senator. However, the Goolsbee endorsement now carries the cachet of the Obama team as well.

Most of all, these endorsements matter for what they imply about Joe Biden. If the former VP had the confidence of ObamaWorld and especially Barack Obama himself, would any of these figures jump ship to Buttigieg, of all people? That question becomes especially acute with Love, whose personal relationship with Obama speaks volumes with this move. Joe Biden’s credibility just took a body blow from Obama’s body man, and it’s not going to go unnoticed.