Obama 'confident' he could have won 2016 election

By Allen Cone  |  Updated Dec. 26, 2016 at 8:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said he could have won a third term in November if he were eligible to run again.

Obama made the comment during a interview with his former senior adviser David Axelrod in an interview for the "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. A transcript is also available.

"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 said during the 50-minute interview that aired on CNN on Monday.

Neither President-elect Donald Trump nor Democratic Hillary Clinton won a majority of the vote. Clinton defeated Trump in the popular vote by almost 2.9 million ballots, though Trump won the presidency by winning 304 electoral votes, 34 more than the 270 required to win.

Trump responded to Obama's comments on Twitter: 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.

Obama believes his hope-and-change vision that propelled him to the presidency in 2008 still resonates.

"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," Obama said.

"In the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that somehow, it really was a fantasy. What I would argue is, is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism."

But in 2016, Obama said, the Democrats failed to connect with the voters.

"If you think you're winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer," he said.

"There is a sense, obviously, that some communities have been left behind from the recovery and people feeling anxious about that. ... But understandably, I think she {Hillary Clinton] looked and said well, given my opponent and the things he's saying and what he's doing, we should focus on that."

He noted Democrats' policies are better for working-class Americans.

"In retrospect, we can all be Monday morning quarterbacks. Here's what I -- here's what I would say prospectively, is that the Democratic agenda is better for all working people. This division that's been put out there between white working class versus black working class or Latino working class -- look, an agenda of raising minimum wage, rebuilding our infrastructure, education, family leave, community colleges, making it easier for unions to organize, that's an agenda for working class Americans of all stripes. And we have to talk about it and we have to be present in every community talking about it."

Obama said he doesn't think the Democratic Party has abandoned white voters.

"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."

One way to succeed, he said, is to follow the example set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Mitch McConnell's insight, just from a pure tactical perspective, was pretty smart and well executed, the degree of discipline that he was able to impose on his caucus was impressive. His insight was that we just have to say no to that," Obama said.

After he departs the White House, Obama said he plans to comment on major issues.

"I have to be quiet for a while. And I don't mean politically, I mean internally. I have to still myself," he said. "You have to get back in tune with your center and process what's happened before you make a bunch of good decisions."

But he also will relax when he leaves office.

"My intentions on Jan. 21st is to sleep, take my wife on a nice vacation, and she has said it better be nice. Because she's earned it."

But he's also "gonna start thinking about the first book."

He concluded the interview by saying "it's been a pretty good ride."

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