Obama Chomping at the Bit to Start Campaigning For Hillary
According to a new story in the New York Times, President Barack Obama is itching for a fight. Currently enjoying some of the highest approval numbers of his presidency, Obama said Friday night that Democrats could take nothing for granted as they fought to retain control of the White House.
“I want us to run scared the whole time,” Obama said at a Miami fundraiser.
Jennifer Psaki, Obama’s communications director, told the NY Times that her boss was raring to go. “He has indicated he wants to spend a lot of time on the campaign trail, so when it’s time to do that, we’ll go out guns ablazing,” she said. “We are actively thinking through how to use the president on the campaign trail – what works for the nominee, what works for him, and how to utilize his strengths and his appeal.”
Obama has remained (sort of) silent when it comes to the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but with the media having declared the contest over, the president could come out this week with an endorsement. At a press conference Monday, a reporter asked why Obama couldn’t make his declaration of support on Wednesday after the last round of significant state primaries. To which Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe he will.”
As the Times pointed out, it’s been a long time since a president was popular enough in his final year to be of value to his party’s nominee. In 2008, John McCain wanted little to do with President George W. Bush, whose approval numbers were in the toilet. It was much the same story in 2000, when Al Gore distanced himself from President Bill Clinton, whose political legacy was tainted by a certain girl in a certain blue dress.
In what may amount to little more than blind luck, though, Obama’s approval ratings have seen a fairly significant bump over the last few months. Even if that weren’t the case, though, Hillary would probably still want him out on the trail. To most reasonable observers, Obama has been a disaster as president. But even his biggest detractors have to admit that when it comes to campaigning, he’s a master of the game. Just ask Hillary.
Depending on his involvement, Obama could open up new avenues of attack for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Unfortunately, given the media’s unfailing ability to cast everything Trump says as somehow “racist,” you can just imagine the minefield he’ll face when criticizing Obama.
He must also be careful to avoid the trap of turning this election into Trump vs. Obama. Hillary is a much weaker candidate with much higher unfavorables and much less charisma. And, of course, she’s the one actually running for president. If Trump can stay disciplined and focused (gulp), we can take this thing, Obama or no Obama.