As the Trump administration continues to drag on, Democrats in the United States look towards both the midterm elections in 2018 and the next presidential election in 2020 as potential opportunities to regain some national power and steer the nation away from Trump-ism. For now the midterm elections are the next on the agenda, and a number of interests, like former Vice President Joe Biden and California’s U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, are maintaining a public face of being focused on them. Behind the scenes, though, some key Democratic interests — like former President Obama himself — are operating under the shadow of the next presidential cycle.
POLITICO has revealed that Obama has been meeting with possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders in his D.C. office, although in the case of at least some of the meetings, the subject matter raised has stayed away from explicit inclusion of 2020 presidential aspirations. Still, the roster of individuals Obama has met with is impressive and noteworthy to say the least and sets him up for a possible prominent position when those involved in the national Democratic Party do turn to explicitly discussing 2020 presidential aspirations.
He has met with individuals including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and even his own former vice president, Joe Biden.
In the case of Sanders, who launched a prominent but eventually failed bid for the presidency under the Democratic Party in the 2016 cycle, he himself requested his meeting with Obama, according to POLITICO‘s report. That meeting included discussions covering a point on which Sanders and the Democratic establishment as a whole have often diverged, namely, the struggle between “idealism and practicality,” as POLITICO puts it.
Obama met with Warren in April of this year after having already met once since he left office back in 2017. The first time they met, it was at Obama’s invitation after the popular progressive member of Congress expressed concern about his acceptance of a large speaking fee for delivering remarks to a Wall Street investment firm.
This time around, the two of them discussed interests ranging from Democratic nominee for governor in Ohio and former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray to current U.S. President Donald Trump himself.
On his own time, Obama has stayed away from waging some kind of never ending war against the Trump administration, opting to instead make his voice heard only at the particular moments it suits him, such as when Trump has gone after key accomplishments of the Obama administration like the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal.
That strategy represents a broader conviction of the former president that Democrats should stay away from hyping up every little issue with the Trump administration and stick to “kitchen table issues.”
Even still, Obama views himself more as a “sounding board” for current and future Democratic leaders than as the “person to come up with the plan” charting Democrats’ path forward, according to POLITICO. He has, though, taken on tasks like helping Democratic fundraising.
Perhaps helping him along in those efforts, it’s not as though he left office in 2017 on a sour note. He has a broad popularity to go on, and how that popularity may affect the outcome of the 2020 presidential race remains to be seen.
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