At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Thursday night, former President Obama had two messages for Democrats -- the first about the stark differences between his vision and his successor's, and the second about how to approach the midterm elections.
"You are right to be concerned," he said in a conversation with DNC Chairman Tom Perez, according to the Los Angeles Times.
At a small fundraiser for about 200 in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama articulated a view about the differences between him and President Trump that was likely already held by the Democratic donors in the room: "There's the story that is based largely on fear," he said, "and there is a story based largely in hope. There's the story that says we're in it together, and there's the story that says there's an us and a them." Obama did not mention Mr. Trump by name, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He said he doesn't think Americans want a "dog-eat-dog world where everybody is angry all the time," and he also suggested that Democrats have it within their power to effect a change. "The simple message right now is that if people participate and they vote, then this democracy works."
The former president also warned the donors against complacency. "I would caution us from extrapolating too much from a bunch of special elections and starting to think that, 'OK, this will take care of itself.' Because it won't," he said, going on to note the power fear has to motivate voters.
"Vote, participate, get involved," he advised, even if the message and the messenger aren't perfect, and even if there's no "tingle in your spine" and "you're expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving."
"Politics, like life, is imperfect. But there is better and there is worse," he said.
According to the L.A. Times, tickets for the fundraiser started at $2,700 to attend the discussion between Obama and Perez and see a musical performance by Christina Aguilera. Donors paying $100,000 received five dinner tickets, a photo with Mr. Obama, and membership to the DNC finance committee.
KQED's Marisa Lagos, in San Francisco, where the former president will be attending another fundraiser Friday, told CBSN in a "Local Matters" segment that she spoke with Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who also stressed the importance of turnout and said Democrats should focus on people who agree with them but maybe haven't been excited enough to show up at the polls.
Lagos characterized Pfeiffer's guidance to Democrats: "If we think that what Trump is doing on the border is illegal or immoral, we need to say that. But we also need to add to the end of that sentence. ... We also need to protect health care, we also need to protect the environment."
"They need to be careful to not to let him lead every conversation," she added.
In the Bay Area, Mr. Obama will be appearing Friday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.