Former President Barrack Obama has been privately meeting with and counseling several Democratic 2020 hopefuls and declared candidates, according to The New York Times. One of the messages Obama relayed to candidates during these meetings, the Times noted, is that they must be willing to combat President Donald Trump’s “bleak and divisive rhetoric about economic change” with an alternative that resonates with rural voters in largely Republican areas.
The article reveals that, although the former president has been reluctant to openly endorse a specific 2020 candidate, he has been privately counseling a number of declared as well as likely candidates from his Washington, DC office:
“He has counseled more than a dozen declared or likely candidates on what he believes it will take to beat President Trump, holding private talks with leading contenders like Ms. Harris, Mr. Booker and Senator Elizabeth Warren; underdogs like Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.; and prominent figures who remain undecided on the race, like Eric H. Holder, his former attorney general, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.”
Senior Obama adviser Eric Schultz said that Obama had been “happy to speak privately with candidates seeking his guidance on the best way to lead the country.” (RELATED: Obama’s Former Border Patrol Chief Blames Fight Over Border Wall On ‘Identity Politics’)
Obama reportedly offered a mix of supportive advice to the potential candidates, as well as warnings against a harmful primary battle that could damage the Democratic Party moving into the general election. One piece of advice Obama offered was for candidates to appeal to rural voters in generally Republican areas, bringing a centrist counter to Trump’s “right-wing populism,” as the article characterizes it.
“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.”
It is widely known that a large number of two-time Obama voters voted for Trump in 2016. Of the 650 counties that voted for Obama twice, nearly a third of them voted for Trump in 2016, largely occurring in key states such as Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. (RELATED: Former Shell Oil President Says Obama Had Nothing To Do With Increased Fuel Production)