Offbeat Obama midterm endorsements seen as too little, too late by Dem critics

13:27  10 august  2018
13:27  10 august  2018 Source:   thehill.com

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Over the past year, he’s appeared at rallies, done a robocall, made a few endorsements . They’ve dispatched elsewhere too , with Pfeiffer, for example, advising the DNC on its Cody Keenan, have become some of the highest profile and most reliable critics on Twitter, Obama sees that as

is making it clear he too will campaign for several candidates ahead of the most anticipated midterm vote in years. Georgia’s Abrams said it was “a profound honor” to receive Obama ’s endorsement . Prosecutors Have Offered Little Evidence that Manafort Controlled Offshore Accounts.

a man holding a microphone © Provided by The Hill Former President Barack Obama's midterm endorsement list is leaving some Democrats cold.

They argue the list of 81 endorsements came too late in the midterm season, and failed to put Obama's stamp on Democratic primaries.

Strategists, ex-Obama aides, and even some of the former president's fundraisers interviewed by The Hill say they were perplexed by Obama's list, which came after most states have held their primaries.

"I think a lot of us have wondered why he didn't feel the need to get involved earlier," said one former senior Obama administration official. "There are a lot of folks that could have used his help much earlier. And there are a lot of people who think he should put a stamp on the party."

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Although no details have emerged about what was said in the meeting, some activists said Obama 's gesture, while symbolically meaningful, came a little too late . Obama has avoided discussing the specifics of police shooting cases, as to not be seen interfering with a law enforcement investigation.

In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "It's like a little mini-United Nations", he said. March 2003 and told the crowd that "it's not too late " to stop the war.[129]. ^ " Obama calls midterm elections a 'shellacking' for Democrats".

Obama's decision to largely stay away from primaries is consistent with the behavior of many other ex-presidents, who have generally sought to stay above internal party fights.

But it's been a disappointment to those craving more input from the former president, who is a revered figure in the party.

An Instagram post this week highlighted Obama's continued popularity among Democrats. It showed the Obamas being cheered by raucous supporters as they left a restaurant on Martha's Vineyard, where they are vacationing.

Some Democrats also say the political environment demands that Obama play a bigger role than his predecessors. They argue that Donald Trump's presidency underscores the need for Obama to stay on the scene.

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"These are not traditional times," said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. "He's the most popular Democrat in our nation and we really need all the help we can get. So if I were advising him, I would have told him to get out there much sooner and get in the trenches because we're playing high stakes poker."

The release of the endorsement list, however, was consistent with Obama's post-Oval Office goal of seeking to stay above the fray, and to not become more of a foil to Trump.

Aides and other people close to Obama have repeatedly said that his desire is to allow a new crop of Democrats to take over the party. Even in 2016, Obama avoided an outright endorsement of his former secretary of State, Hillary Clinon, during her primary fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

A source close to Obama said he has tried to apply the same logic to this year's primaries.

While he realizes how much is at stake, he wanted to let the primaries play out without weighing in. He doesn't want to be the leader of the resistance, other sources close to Obama say, because it will not be helpful to the party in the long term.

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Had the administration “pushed too far” in its promotion of cosmopolitan values, neglecting and According to Politico, Obama won’t get involved in midterm endorsements until this fall, and is not expected to endorse anyone for president until after the party coalesces around a nominee.

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Obama will likely release another list of endorsements in the coming weeks, one source close to the former president said.

Still, that approach left Obama snubbing even some former aides running for office.

In Texas, for example, Ed Meier, who served as a State Department official under the Obama administration, fell short in a congressional primary, as did former State Department side Alison Kiehl Friedman who was running for Congress in Virginia and former commerce aide Sam Jammal, who was running for a seat in California.

"His endorsement during the primary would have changed the outcome of a number of races," one top Obama fundraiser said, adding that some of the candidates lost because the opposition used the lack of endorsements as a sign of weak job performance.

"Obama was playing it safe and doing what was best for him not them and not for the country," the fundraiser continued. "I love the guy but gotta call him out on some of this stuff when it happens."

Some former aides and donors say it's obvious Obama didn't want to choose sides and hear from allies of various candidates. The president still needs many fundraisers to help build his library and foundation.

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It’s a huge change from eight years ago, when Clinton made over 100 appearances for Democrats during the 2010 midterms as the most in-demand presence on the campaign trail. In his reelection campaign two years later , former President Barack Obama anointed Clinton his “explainer-in-chief.”

Katie Merrill, who helps head up the superPAC "Fight Back California," disagreed with that notion. She said Obama's endorsements "created quite a buzz and are very helpful to the candidates" in the Golden State.

Merrill pointed out that a few candidates, including Eleni Kounalakis, who is running for California lieutenant governor, and Obama alumnus Buffy Wicks, who is running for an assembly seat in the state, would be helped by Obama's endorsements.

Both candidates are running against other Democrats in the general election because of the state's "top two" system, where the top two candidates move on to the general election regardless of party.

"And for the [Democratic] candidates running against [Republican] in the Congressional races, it's very helpful by helping unify Democrats after pretty brutal primaries," she said of Obama's endorsements.

Seth Bringman, a Democratic strategist based in Ohio, also said candidates there were "thrilled" to receive Obama's backing.

"Just knowing that their campaigns are on his radar energized volunteers and helped candidates raise money," Bringman said. "There's even a little impatience to get him back on the trail, because he can come to any media market in the Buckeye State and help us get back a lot of the voters we lost in 2016."

Still, some strategists say Obama's decision to sit on the sidelines has hurt the party.

"I was on a call this morning where it was coming up a lot," one Democratic strategist said. "I think a lot of people say it as lazy, a bit half-assed, and a little too methodical. There are ramifications for this and I hope we don't suffer the consequences. We can't just go red to blue. We need to make states blue for the long term."

"Now's not the time to sit out and be too cute by half," the strategist said. "Where's the audacity of hope?"

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