Nov 16, 2019

Obama cautions 2020 candidates against going too far left

Former President Barack Obama. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama warned 2020 Democrats to avoid moving too far to the left and tearing down the system at a meeting for the Democracy Alliance on Friday, the Washington Post reports.

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement. They like seeing things improved. But the average American doesn’t think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. And I think it’s important for us not to lose sight of that.”

Why it matters: Obama said he will remain neutral throughout the primaries. However, some of the big ideas about sweeping change that the former president mentioned seemed to align with "staunch liberal" candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Post notes.

What he's saying:

  • “My point is that even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality and the fact that voters, including Democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds or the activist wing of our party,” Obama said, per the Post.
  • Obama urged 2020 contenders to push past campaigning on his administration's accomplishments, and bring new ideas to the table.
  • The 44th president harkened back to his own primary to provide encouragement for the current campaigners, saying: “For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you that I had a very robust primary ... whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure they are the next president.”

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2020 Democrats love Obama, but are ready to move on

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are chasing two contradictory impulses in their quest to defeat President Trump: Move past Barack Obama's policies, but tap into the party's affection for him.

Why it matters: It's hard to watch a Democratic debate without being reminded of Obama's legacy. "We have to rebuild the Obama coalition," Sen. Kamala Harris said at Wednesday's debate, a point that was echoed by other candidates. "I keep referring to that because that's the last time we won."

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019

Obama aides dispute leaving Trump staff "you will fail" notes

Stephanie Grisham and President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Obama's aides denied a claim made by Trump administration press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday that they left disparaging notes in the White House for incoming staff.

Driving the news: Grisham said in a radio interview that upon arriving at the White House, "every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said, 'You will fail,' and 'You aren’t going to make it.'" She has yet to present evidence to support her claim.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

Bloomberg: UK elections are the "canary in the coal mine" to 2020 Democrats

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the climate meeting in Madrid, Dec. 10, 2019. Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling Boris Johnson's decisive victory in Britain's election the "canary in the coal mine" for the Democratic Party about its chances of unseating President Trump in 2020.

Why it matters: The latest entry to the Democratic presidential primary field said Friday the U.K. results reinforce the idea that it's simply not enough for Democrats to assume they will beat Trump next year.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019