Former President Barack Obama finally weighed in on the 2020 Democratic race, warning Democratic voters not to follow left-leaning Twitter feeds or the activist wing of the party.
According to the New York Times, during a speech to wealthy, liberal donors, Obama expressed concerns about how far left some of the candidates were taking issues like health care and immigration.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” Obama said.
The New York Times reports Obama did not single out any specific candidate or policy proposal, however, he cautioned the 2020 Democratic field to listen to voters instead of creating policies based off the left-leaning Twitter mob. This was clearly a shot at two of the more progressive candidates in the 2020 race, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Obama has not yet endorsed his former Vice President, Joe Biden, or any other 2020 candidate, but his remarks signal a potential endorsement of someone more moderate like Biden. The former Vice President has molded his campaign around his legacy in office with Obama.
During this speech, it was clear Obama was not in favor of overly progressive plans, particularly “Medicare for All.” Rather, it appears Obama favors an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, similar to the plans proposed by Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Since Warren and Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plans were released and new data shows “Medicare for All” is not a winning strategy for Democrats, it should come as no surprise some establishment Democrats are cautious of these more progressive plans. Biden has long been reluctant to consider a “Medicare for All” plan, which raises more questions about why former VP has yet to earn Obama’s endorsement.
Obama’s comments may also be aimed at radical Democrats running for House seats. Particularly, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. A warning against the socialist agenda of these three far-left progressive Congresswomen may boost moderate Democratic candidates running in primaries against them.
Nonetheless, Obama’s advice to the Democratic party may work favorably for candidates like Warren and Sanders. Both are eager to showcase how their radical plans are not accepted by the mainstream Democratic institutions and aim to garner support that way.
While Obama’s guidance on the 2020 path to victory may be the best strategy to win over swing states, it’s unlikely front runners like Warren and Sanders will heed such advice.