Joe Biden and Barack Obama got off to a rocky start in 2007, but they found their way to a mutual respect and good working relationship for the next eight years.Obama showed his appreciation at the end of their second term by rewarding Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award possible. When Biden tells friendly crowds inside stories about their relationship, the former vice president goes out of his way to refer to the ex-president as “Barack,” to better personalize their connection and accentuate the warm familiarity.“I’m an Obama-Biden Democrat, man. And I’m proud of it,” Biden told reporters earlier this month. “I don’t think there’s any one standard-bearer for the Obama legacy in this primary” — Ben LaBolt, former Obama reelection spokesmanNone of Obama’s inner circle of advisers have signed on with any campaign. But other Democratic contenders have snagged top-level Obama campaign talent and tapped its fundraising prowess.While Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz, led Obama’s campaign efforts in swing state Ohio, Beto O’Rourke hired Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and has enjoyed the support of Paul Tewes, the 2008 Obama campaign’s director in first-in-the-nation Iowa. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren signed Joe Rospars, Obama’s chief digital strategist in 2008 and 2012, and Emily Parcell, political director for Obama’s 2008 Iowa caucus team. Several top former Obama administration officials contributed to Pete Buttigieg.In the key swing state of Florida, it’s a similar story. Steve Schale, who helped lead Obama to two victories there as state director in 2008 and senior adviser in 2012, is serving as a senior advisor to Biden’s campaign. But California Senator Kamala Harris scored the support of Obama’s top fundraiser in the state, Kirk Wagar, who was appointed ambassador to Singapore by Obama. The Obama campaign’s deputy Florida director in 2008 and state director in 2012, Ashley Walker, is staying neutral.“I don’t think there’s any one standard-bearer for the Obama legacy in this primary. There are multiple candidates who could carry that mantle,” said Ben LaBolt, former spokesman for Obama’s reelection campaign.“A big question looming over the primary is: Is this a moment for the longest record of experience or is this a moment for generational change within the party and a new vision within the party?” LaBolt said, noting that “even President Obama has talked about letting this be a moment for generational change and for others to lead and rise through the party and step up. So I don’t think it will be a completely clean shot if he tries to claim he’s the sole purveyor of his legacy.” Yet despite a legitimate claim to be the standard-bearer of President Obama’s legacy, Biden faces a fundamental challenge as he seeks his party’s nomination for the White House: Convincing the diverse and youthful coalition that elected Obama to two terms that a 76-year-old white man is the right person to carry the mantle.To Biden and his advisers, age and race are inferior to the political realities of his special relationship with Obama. The question is whether primary voters will see it the same way, especially when the former president has indicated he’ll remain neutral in a crowded Democratic field filled with diverse and dynamic candidates.Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the National Minority Quality Forum on April 9, 2019 in Washington, D.C. | Alex Edelman/Getty ImagesDavid Axelrod, a top Obama adviser, said the former president’s failure to endorse his former vice president shouldn’t come as a surprise — nor should it be taken as a slight of some kind.“The custom for former presidents is not to endorse presidents. The expectation that he would, I find kind of baffling,” Axelrod said, adding that Obama holds a general belief that “people should compete, the strongest candidate will emerge.”Axelrod described the two as “genuinely friends. That’s not folklore. Unlike almost every other vice president and president, these guys got closer and closer over eight years.”One thing is certain: Obama’s political apparatus is not united behind Biden, whose campaign announcement comes after more than 20 other candidates launched their bids. “You can’t go into some black people’s houses here without seeing a picture of Obama on the wall and in some of them Biden is in the background. It makes a difference,” said Kendall Corley, Obama’s former South Carolina director in 2008 and 2012 who was in talks to work for Biden in the state again.“There’s some love for Joe Biden,” he said, “and it’s because of Barack Obama and how he stood by him. People remember.” Also On POLITICO Joe Biden announces run for president By Marc Caputo Inside Joe Biden’s battle plan By Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo The generational split is clear in a February POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showing Biden is weakest with voters under the age of 30. But, the poll showed, Biden’s age — he will be 78 on the next Inauguration Day — isn’t a fatal problem for him among Democrats, with 30 percent agreeing that he’s “too old to run for president” while 58 percent disagreed.“There’s some love for Joe Biden, and it’s because of Barack Obama and how he stood by him. People remember” — Kendall Corley, former Obama South Carolina directorAn Obama campaign veteran who had discussed working with Biden’s campaign said there’s a divide among former Obama staffers.“A lot of us don’t want Joe to run. His time has passed and it’s not his moment,” the operative said. “The real Obama legacy is about the future, not the past. And if he runs, it’s going to put that legacy on trial in a Democratic primary where guys like Bernie [Sanders] are going to take shots at it and tarnish that legacy … We want Joe to ride off into the sunset.”Still, nostalgia for the Obama White House in the Trump Era is palpable among Democrats. Not only do white progressives and centrists miss the days of “no drama Obama,” African-Americans revere the first black president and have transferred some of that loyalty to his loyal wingman.Looking at the early state calendar, that support from black voters could be a big boost to Biden in South Carolina, where 60 percent of the primary electorate is black. South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, has not endorsed any 2020 candidate but is a Biden ally who speaks favorably of him.