Presidential candidate Joe Biden tried to distance his campaign from the Obama administration on Wednesday.
"This is not a continuation of Barack's administration. There are new problems that we face today that were different than the ones we faced at the time," Biden said at the 110th NAACP annual convention in Detroit.
Biden aims to stand out from the crowded Democratic field — which includes Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif. — by hewing to his record with the Obama administration. But he is also trying to communicate to voters that he is independent of the former president.
Hank Sheinkopf, veteran political strategist, said Biden should keep using former President Barack Obama's continuing popularity as a "shield."
"If he tries to walk away from it, it's more likely that it won't be a happy ending," Sheinkopf said.
On July 15, Biden released a health insurance plan that would build on Obamacare rather than supporting more progressive options such as "Medicare for All," pitched by Bernie Sanders and other Democratic candidates, that would do away with private insurance.
The proposal would offer a Medicare-like public option, boost tax credits and give Americans in states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare access to the public option without premiums, among other measures.
Biden's connection to Obama remains a positive for the candidate overall, even as some label him an "Obama-Biden Democrat" in an effort to knock him down.
The Sanders campaign criticized Biden's health-care plan, saying it didn't go far enough to change the system. Harris attacked Biden over his support of Obama's deportation policies while he was vice president, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., reversed his support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, of which Biden is a strong proponent.
Biden still leads the pack of 2020 presidential hopefuls with 28.6% of support, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average, but his poll numbers have dropped since the first Democratic debate in June. In that debate Harris attacked the former vice president for his record on busing decades earlier when he was a senator in Delaware.
Obama, who still enjoys near-universal support among Democrats, has yet to endorse any of the 24 Democratic candidates.
Shortly after Biden launched his bid in April, he told reporters that he'd specifically asked Obama not to issue an endorsement.
"I asked President Obama not to endorse," he said. "Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits."
The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.