Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report

Former President Obama and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaSouthern Poverty Law Center head announces resignation Michelle Obama on 'Becoming': 'Sasha still hasn't read it' Michelle Obama seeks volunteers for local campaigns: There are 'no "off" years' MORE are expected not to endorse a Democratic candidate in the party's 2020 presidential primary, sources told The New York Times in a report released Monday.

The former president has met with and counseled several contenders.

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris to pitch using federal funds to give teachers pay raises Dem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Here's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Booker endorses New Jersey marijuana legalization bill MORE (N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg are among the declared Democratic candidates Obama has spoken to, according to the Times.

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Obama has also reportedly met with prominent potential candidates including former Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Texas), former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderGOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Jeff Sessions returns to Justice Department to retrieve Cabinet chair The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain MORE and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to the former president, told the Times that Obama has been encouraged by the “diverse, experienced and principled” field of candidates taking shape, and that he had been “happy to speak privately with candidates seeking his guidance on the best way to lead the country.”

“President Obama counsels candidates to always show up and make their case even in areas or in front of audiences they may not necessarily win; express views and positions that reflect their genuine beliefs; and share a positive vision for the country true to their own personal story,” Schultz said.

The Times reports that Obama would not even endorse his former vice president, Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Former Georgia candidate asks Abrams be given 'space' amid 2020 buzz Biden team denies 'pre-cooked plan' of Abrams as early running-mate pick MORE, if he enters the race. 

Obama has reportedly offered candidates a combination of supportive advice and warnings, cautioning that running for president is a punishing process, seven people who have spoken with him directly or were briefed in detail on the meetings told the Times.

During the 2016 presidential race, Obama did not endorse former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE until she officially became the Democratic nominee.