Obama: I would have beaten Trump

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Michael Kran­ish

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said in an in­ter­view re­leased Mon­day that he would have beaten Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump “if I had run again,” de­liv­er­ing an im­plicit crit­i­cism of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign, which he said acted too cau­tiously out of a mis­taken be­lief that vic­tory was all but cer­tain.

“If you think you’re win­ning, then you have a ten­dency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer,” Obama said in the in­ter­view with for­mer ad­viser and long­time friend David Ax­el­rod, a CNN an­a­lyst, for his “The Axe Files” pod­cast. The pres­i­dent said Clin­ton “un­der­stand­ably ... looked and said, well, given my op­po­nent and the things he’s say­ing and what he’s do­ing, we should fo­cus on that.”

Obama stressed his ad­mi­ra­tion for Clin­ton and said she had been the vic­tim of un­fair at­tacks. But, as he has in other exit in­ter­views, he in­sisted that her de­feat was not a re­jec­tion of the eight years of his pres­i­dency. To the con­trary, he ar­gued that he had put to­gether a win­ning coali­tion that stretched across the coun­try but that the Demo­cratic Party and the Clin­ton cam­paign had failed to fol­low through on it.

“I am con­fi­dent in this vi­sion be­cause I’m con­fi­dent that if I — if I had run again and ar­tic­u­lated it — I think I could’ve mo­bi­lized a ma­jor­ity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple to rally be­hind it,” the pres­i­dent said.

“See, I think the is­sue was less that Democrats have some­how aban­doned the white work­ing class. I think that’s nonsense,” Obama said. “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 . ... 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.”

Clin­ton spokesman Brian Fal­lon said the cam­paign de­clined to com­ment.

Ax­el­rod, in an in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post, said he be­lieved Obama went fur­ther than he had be­fore in cri­tiquing Clin­ton’s cam­paign. “This was all in ser­vice of mak­ing the point that he be­lieves that his pro­gres­sive vi­sion and the vi­sion he ran on is still a ma­jor­ity view in this coun­try,” Ax­el­rod said. “He chooses to be hope­ful about the fu­ture.”

Ax­el­rod did not press Obama on many of the most con­tro­ver­sial parts of his pres­i­dency, such as not tak­ing ac­tion to pre­vent the deaths of hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in Syria. Such friendly in­ter­views have be­come a hall­mark of Obama’s pres­i­dency, whether with friends or co­me­di­ans or YouTube hosts. Nonethe­less, the pres­i­dent, who has done rel­a­tively few in­ter­views with main­stream me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions, re­peated his long-stated com­plaint that the me­dia has fil­tered his mes­sage and that he is sub­ject to un­fair crit­i­cism by out­lets such as Fox News.

Obama made clear that he will be more of an ac­tivist in the long run. He said he plans to help mo­bi­lize and train a younger gen­er­a­tion of Demo­cratic lead­ers and will speak out if his core be­liefs are chal­lenged.

His post-pres­i­den­tial “long-term in­ter­est,” Obama said, is “to build that next gen­er­a­tion of lead­er­ship; or­ga­niz­ers, jour­nal­ists, politi­cians. I see them in Amer­ica, I see them around the world — 20-year-olds, 30year-olds who are just full of tal­ent, full of ide­al­ism. And the ques­tion is how do we link them up? How do we give them the tools for them to bring about pro­gres­sive change? And I want to use my pres­i­den­tial cen­ter as a mech­a­nism for de­vel­op­ing that next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent.” He said he didn’t want to be some­one “who’s just hang­ing around re­liv­ing old glo­ries.”

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