In an interview released Monday, Pres. Obama confidently declared that he could’ve beaten Republican nominee Donald Trump had he had the opportunity to run for a third term.
The 22nd Amendment forbids any president from serving more that two terms in office, but the outgoing POTUS expressed assurance that most Americans would continue supporting his progressive outlook for the country.
“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,” Obama stated.
“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,'” he added.
The president made the bold remarks during a sit-down interview with his former adviser and CNN analyst David Axelrod for the “Axe Files” podcast on Monday. Throughout their dialogue, Obama expressed his admiration for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton but didn’t hold back on criticizing the shortcomings of her campaign, which ultimately cost her the election.
He explained that Clinton, who he felt had become overly confident in her ability to win the election, had “played it safe” and missed crucial opportunities to appeal to voters.
“The reason I bring this up is because we’ve both been in campaigns,” the president said of himself and the former Secretary of State. “If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer. … But 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.'”
The POTUS went on to criticize Democrats (including himself) as a whole, stating that the party had failed to convince American voters that they had benefited from the progressive policies he and his administration implemented over the past eight years.
“Here’s what I would say prospectively, is that the Democratic agenda is better for all working people,” 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,” he continued.
Aside from his pointed criticisms, the president’s confident prediction that he could’ve won a third term in the White House sparked social media discussion and, naturally, rubbed some political pundits the wrong way — specifically President-elect Trump. The real estate tycoon-turned politician took to Twitter Monday to express disdain for Obama’s remarks.
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
Other prominent Republican figures like Newt Gingrich also balked at the notion that Obama would’ve been successful in running against The Donald, according to The Washington Post. He noted that while the outgoing president would’ve been able to garner much support from African-American voters, his willingness to run again might have also sparked repudiation from other voters who felt betrayed or ignored by him.
“All of the lies he told about Obamacare, ‘keeping your doctor’ … would have come back to haunt him,” said Gingrich, who served as a former adviser to Trump. “It would have been a totally different race.”
Obama’s candid interview with Axelrod likely marked one of his last as sitting U.S. president, as he rarely takes interviews with mainstream media organizations. Axelrod said his coversation with the president 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.”
“[Obama] chooses to be hopeful about the future,” he told The Washington Post.