For months, Barack Obama has taken meetings with Democrats hoping to capture the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. And though he’s not expected to endorse a candidate until a winner emerges from the crowded field, he hasn’t been shy about offering his advice to anyone who will listen.
Last summer, with midterm campaigning in full swing, Politico reported that Obama was counseling Democrats to focus on kitchen-table issues, rather than the Russia investigation.
Don’t chase the shiny objects, he tells them. Don’t hyperventilate over the flash of any tweet. Think about what’s going to stick in the long term.
Now he’s offering advice on how to approach Trump in the presidential election, the Times reports. In meetings with more than a dozen declared and prospective candidates spanning the ideological divide from Bernie Sanders to Mike Bloomberg, Obama has reportedly pushed candidates to counter Trump’s dystopian vision of America and go after the voters who are increasingly abandoning the Democratic party:
He has urged candidates to push back on Mr. Trump’s bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change, and to deliver a competing message that can resonate even in Republican-leaning areas, courting rural voters and other communities that tend to distrust Democrats.
He’s also encouraging candidates not to get too personal in the primary, fearing that bruising attacks between Democrats would help Trump in the general election.
It’s not clear where Obama thinks the eventual nominee should fall on the ideological spectrum, but he is reportedly pushing for some more moderate voices in the primary. It’s a lane he believes remains open given the “abundance of hard-charging liberals in the race.” And even if that sounds like a bad idea to many on the left, it is what most Democrats appear to want.