President Barack Obama says he would have been able to “mobilize” Americans in 2016 – if only he had been allowed to run again.
“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with David Axelrod, his former senior political advisor, for the AxeFiles podcast, which is produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The interview was released on Monday.
“I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.”
The president was no stranger to the campaign trail in 2016, frequently headlining rallies around the country for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State. Clinton lost the race to Republican Donald Trump in November, despite winning the popular vote.
Mr. Obama said that Clinton lost in part because Democrats did not focus enough on constituencies that broke for president-elect Trump.
“We’re not there on the ground communicating not only the dry policy aspects of this, but that we care about these communities, that we’re bleeding for these communities,” Mr. Obama said.
“It means caring about local races, state boards or school boards and city councils and state legislative races and not thinking that somehow, just a great set of progressive policies that we present to the New York Times editorial board will win the day.”
However, Mr. Obama said Clinton “performed wonderfully under really tough circumstances.”
Looking forward, Mr. Obama indicated that he might weigh in on political matters in the future, and that Democrats, who have lost control of the White House and Congress, should look to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s example of how to push back on Mr. Trump’s agenda.
“Mitch McConnell’s insight, just from a pure tactical perspective, was pretty smart and well executed, the degree of discipline that he was able to impose on his caucus was impressive. His insight was that we just have to say no to that,” Mr. Obama said.