Former President Barack Obama has been hosting left-wing Democratic lawmakers to advise them on how to campaign, according to a Thursday Politico column.
Obama has been intermittently involved in politics since leaving office in 2017, having campaigned for then-candidate Joe Biden’s election in 2020 and for multiple congressional candidates in the 2022 midterms. His recent invitations to lawmakers for private conversations about campaigning and strategy is an increase in such political activity and suggests that he may be seeking to influence the party’s agenda, per Politico. (RELATED: Obama Stresses ‘Need’ For ‘Digital Fingerprints’ To Crack Down On Information That ‘Is Not True’)
Among the members that Obama has met with include Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Maxwell Frost of Florida, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Haley Stevens of Michigan. The alleged purpose of the conversations was to enable Obama to “keep current with his party’s rising stars,” per the report.
Just sat down for an exclusive w/ President @BarackObama in Athens to discuss the future of democracy, at home & abroad. I asked how the US should engage with autocracies. Watch his response.
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) June 22, 2023
The content of the discussions included “long-winded advice, talk of best practices and curiosity about what the lawmakers were hearing at home,” per the report, with Obama advising House Democrats on how they ought to campaign and legislate ahead of the 2024 elections when President Joe Biden will likely also be on the ballot. The report notes that the issue of low turnout among black men was raised, while Obama was also how to “avoid coming off as elitist.”
During his discussions, Obama also reportedly pressed Democrats to “establish their own identity,” but said that lawmakers should allow “that the party’s fate in 2024 would be largely tied to Biden’s success.”
Biden, who was Obama’s vice president for eight years, is known to have a complicated relationship with Obama. At recent events where both have appeared, Obama has often drawn more attention despite Biden being the incumbent president, while Biden “oftentimes felt that that loyalty was not being rewarded” during the Obama administration, according to former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
While he was president, Obama rarely pursued such conversations with new lawmakers. Neither have other Democratic or Republican former presidents – such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – held an organized series of private conversations with lawmakers of their party since leaving the White House.
The report notes that attendees hoped Obama would become more involved in the 2024 election, citing his “popularity and rhetorical gifts” in apparent contrast to Biden, who has made notable gaffes while speaking and has an approval rating of 35% per Pew Research, compared to Obama’s 51%.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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