Hillary Clinton has a problem. She’s not a very good candidate. She doesn’t inspire the kind of wild, stand-in-the-sun-for-hours enthusiasm that President Obama did. There is no one passing out at her rallies. She’s raising less money than her challenger Bernie Sanders. She is winning delegates but few people seem to be swooning over her carefully crafted persona.
Fortunately for Hillary, she has an ally willing to help her make it to the White House. The New York Times reports President Obama, speaking privately to big donors in Houston, Texas, asked them to stop flirting with Bernie Sanders and line up behind Hillary:
Those in attendance described an urgency in Mr. Obama’s tone as he suggested that Democrats needed to come together to prevent an opening for the Republicans, whose leading candidate is Donald J. Trump, to exploit.
Mr. Obama indicated that he knew some people were not “excited” by Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, a White House official confirmed.
But, while he stressed that he was not endorsing either candidate, and that both would make good presidents, Mr. Obama went on to lavish praise on Mrs. Clinton, describing her as smart, tough and experienced, and said that she would continue the work of his administration. Mr. Sanders has very publicly criticized Mr. Obama on certain policies and has called for a “political revolution.”
Obama is maintaining a veneer of neutrality but in reality he is urging donors to defund Sanders’ campaign so his doesn’t harm Clinton’s chances. In addition to going after her Democratic rival behind the scenes, Obama is also publicly attacking the GOP front-runner in a way that, the Washington Post reports, makes him, “poised to be the most active sitting president on the campaign trail in decades.”
Obama and his top aides have been strategizing for weeks about how they can reprise his successful 2008 and 2012 approaches to help elect a Democrat to replace him. And out of concern that a Republican president in 2017 — either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) — would weaken or reverse some of his landmark policies, Obama and his surrogates have started making the case that it is essential for the GOP to be defeated in November.
Obama in recent days has been in the forefront of those taking Trump seriously. More than once, the president has gone on extended riffs about why he thinks Trump as a political leader is bad for the country.
Hillary is not a very good candidate and there is a real question whether she can inspire the Obama coalition to get out and vote. However, if Obama himself is willing to go all out to raise the enthusiasm level for her, then running for Obama’s 3rd term makes more sense. The question is whether this year is fundamentally different than 2008 and 2012. The surprising success of both Trump and Sanders indicates many voters are looking for an outsider rather than four more years of the status quo.