With less than a month to go before Donald Trump’s administration begins trying to rip the current president’s legacy to shreds, Obama said that he was “confident” that he could have won a third term had the Constitution allowed it. During an appearance on former adviser David Axelrod’s podcast, Obama insisted that his message of “one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism” would have prevailed over Trump’s decidedly darker campaign. “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,” he said. “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.”
Obama went on to say, “Hillary Clinton performed wonderfully under really tough circumstances,” adding that a “double standard” and “a longstanding difficulty in her relationship with the press” led to “her flaws [being] wildly amplified.” However, he also suggested that she should have tried harder to sell her “very progressive” economic agenda to “communities [that] have been left behind from the recovery and people feeling anxious about that.”
“Understandably, I think she looked and said well, given my opponent and the things he’s saying and what he’s doing, we should focus on that,“ he said. “If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer.”
“I think the issue was less that Democrats have somehow abandoned the white working class, I think that’s nonsense. Look, the Affordable Care Act benefits a huge number of Trump voters. There are a lot of folks in places like West Virginia or Kentucky who didn’t vote for Hillary, didn’t vote for me, but are being helped by this,” Obama continued. “The problem is, is that 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, that we understand why they’re frustrated.”
Trump, of course, was eager to offer some analysis of Obama’s counterfactual:
A couple of hours later, in what was perhaps a reference to one of his favorite memes, Trump added:
As CNBC noted, “Total post-election gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are 8.7 percent, 5.8 percent and 5.2 percent respectively.” Meanwhile, a pre-election report “projected that holiday sales this year will exceed $1 trillion, reflecting a 3.6 percent to 4.0 percent increase, though final holiday sales data is pending.” So, if Trump’s numbers turn out to be correct, he can only take credit for not managing to steal Christmas entirely.