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Sen. Bernie Sanders featured 2006 and 2016 praise from former President Barack Obama in an ad for his 2020 presidential campaign. Sen. Bernie Sanders featured 2006 and 2016 praise from former President Barack Obama in an ad for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders featured 2006 and 2016 praise from former President Barack Obama in an ad for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 5, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • Obama has not endorsed a Democrat in the presidential primary.

  • The ad doesn’t indicate the clips are from 2006 and 2016.

  • The ad omits the broader context of Obama praising Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee.

Former President Barack Obama has not revealed his pick in the close Democratic presidential contest, but you might not know that from a new ad released by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Sanders ad, released after Super Tuesday gains by Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, includes audio of real praise by Obama about the Vermont senator. But the audio was edited to remove important context about when and how it was said.

"Feel the Bern" is a 30-second ad that begins with footage of Obama and Sanders walking together and laughing while Obama puts his arm around Sanders’ back. Obama’s voice is heard saying the following:

"Bernie is somebody who has the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, great authenticity, great passion and is fearless. Bernie served on the veterans committee and got bills done. I think people are ready for a call to action. They want honest leadership who cares about them. They want somebody who is going to fight for them. And they will find it in Bernie. That’s right, feel the Bern."

There are a couple of visual clues for viewers that Obama’s praise predates 2020. The ad includes video footage of Sanders walking with Obama at the White House and an image appears to show Obama signing legislation with Sanders and other members of Congress surrounding him. 

The Obama’s quotes are from 2006 and 2016. The video is from June 2016 when Sanders met with Obama to discuss how to defeat Donald Trump. After that meeting, Sanders said he pledged to work with Hillary Clinton.

Biden and departed candidates Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren used clips of Obama praising them in ads. For the most part, they included text indicating the dates of Obama’s remarks. The Sanders’ ad airing in multiple states does not. 

RELATED: Fact-checking Joe Biden's claim that Bernie Sanders thought about challenging Barack Obama

We compared what Obama says in the Sanders ad with Obama’s remarks in full context.

"Fearless"

What Obama says in the ad: "Bernie is somebody who has the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, great authenticity, great passion and is fearless." 

What Obama said and when: This comes from Obama’s interview on a January 2016 Politico podcast in which he generally praised Hillary Clinton and Sanders, but made the point that he knew Clinton better. Obama called Clinton a "good, smart, tough person who cares deeply about this country" and then he said, "Bernie is somebody who — although I don't know as well because he wasn't, obviously, in my administration, has the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, and great authenticity, great passion, and is fearless. His attitude is, ‘I got nothing to lose.’"

"Got bills done"

What the ad says: "Bernie served on the veterans committee and got bills done."

The photo in the ad shows Obama and Sanders together and appears to be when Obama signed the Sanders-sponsored Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act in 2014. 

What Obama said and when: Again, the source is the 2016 Politico podcast in which he praised both Clinton and Sanders. Obama said that Clinton recognizes that politics involves translating values into governance and called her "idealistic and progressive" and had endured so many attacks. And then he said: "And Bernie, you know, is somebody who was a senator and served on the Veterans' Committee and got bills done."  

"Honest leadership" 

What the video says: "I think people are ready for a call to action. They want to have honest leadership who cares about them. They want somebody who's gonna fight for them...and they will find it in Bernie."

What Obama said and when: This comes from 2006 when Obama, then an Illinois senator, endorsed Sanders for Senate and Vermont Rep. Peter Welch for the House. (Obama did single out Sanders when he joked that voters don’t have to worry about him buying fancy suits. Obama asked "Where did you get that suit man?" to which Sanders responded: "right off the rack!") 

"Feel the Bern"

What the video says: "That’s right, feel the Bern."

What Obama said and when: This comes from Obama’s July 2016 Democratic National Convention speech. Obama used much of his 49-minute speech to praise Clinton, the nominee. But he gave a brief nod to Sanders’ supporters when he made the case that all Democrats need to vote (minute 31): "So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been during this election. We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done. That's right — feel the Bern!"

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Our Sources

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign, Feel the Bern ad, March 4, 2020

Joe Biden campaign, Service ad, Feb. 4, 2020

Joe Biden campaign, Who he is: 30 ad, Jan. 17, 2020

Politico, Full transcript: POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush interviews President Barack Obama on Iowa, 2016, and the choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Jan. 25, 2016

CNN, Fact check: Bernie Sanders ad featuring praise from Obama leaves out important context, March 4, 2020

Washington Post, Seeing isn’t believing, 2019

C-SPAN, President Barack Obama at the DNC, July 27, 2016

Amsterdam News, Transcript of Obama at DNC, July 27, 2016

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, President Barack Obama signs Sanders-Miller VA reform bill, 2014

The Hill, Bloomberg highlights ties to Obama in new ad, Feb. 5, 2020

New York Times, Bernie Sanders Meets President Obama and Pledges to Work to Defeat Donald Trump, June 9, 2016

New York Times, Obama Surprises Joe Biden With Presidential Medal of Freedom, Jan. 12, 2017

The Hill, Bloomberg highlights ties to Obama in new ad, Feb. 5, 2020

The Hill, New Warren ad touts Obama's 2010 praise for consumer bureau, Feb. 5, 2020

Samuel D Finkelstein, Tweet of Sen. Barack Obama video clip, 2006

Bustle, Transcript Of Obama's Joe Biden Speech Before His Presidential Medal Of Freedom Surprise, Jan. 12, 2017

AP, Illinois senator draws overflow crowd at UVM, March 10, 2006

Burlington Free Press, Sen. Obama to stump for Sanders, March 10, 2006

Email interview, Mike Casca, Bernie Sanders campaign spokesman, March 5, 2020

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