From The Washington Post:
By Michael Kranish December 26 at 5:02 PM
President Obama said in an interview released Monday that he could have beaten Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “if I had run again.” In his most pointed critique yet, Obama said Hillary Clinton’s campaign acted too cautiously out of a mistaken belief that victory was all but certain.
“If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer,” Obama said in the interview with former adviser and longtime friend David Axelrod, a CNN analyst, for his “The Axe Files” podcast. The president said Clinton “understandably . . . looked and said, well, given my opponent and the things he’s saying and what he’s doing, we should focus on that.”
Trump took exception to this critique, tweeting out later in the day that “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.”
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
Obama stressed his admiration for Clinton and said she had been the victim of unfair attacks. But, as he has in other exit interviews, Obama insisted that her defeat was not a rejection of the eight years of his presidency. To the contrary, he argued that he had put together a winning coalition that stretched across the country but that the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign had failed to follow through on it.
“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it — I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” the president said.
“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.”
There’s more at the original.
Hillary Clinton lost the election because she failed to win Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, four states President Obama carried. Given the depressed turnout in foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia, the kind of turnout Mr Obama generated, it’s a very reasonable argument that he would have carried Pennsylvania again in 2016, had he been able to run again.
Remember just what President Obama did. In 2012, with even the official U-3 unemployment rate at 8%, and the economy even worse than the the doldrums it has been in since then, he defeated a very credible, articulate Republican candidate, one with a solid record of achievement in both public and private life. He did it for one simple reason, a reason I have stated previously: he was just plainly more charismatic than Mitt Romney.
Charisma, or rather the lack thereof, is what has retired former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to private life. She was about as exciting as old dishwater, and could not get enough Democratic partisans to bother with going to the polls to vote for her. The continual drumbeat that she was going to win easily certainly didn’t help turnout for the Democrats and her; it was a media message of “why bother, she’s got it locked up anyway.”
Donald Trump has charisma, has it in spades. I’ll admit that I don’t understand it, but not understanding it doesn’t mean that I can’t admit that he has it. And President Obama has it, undeniably. A race between two charismatic candidates, well, who can know in advance, but I can easily see how an inspiring candidate like President Obama could have beaten an inspiring candidate like Donald Trump.
As for Mrs Clinton? Remember, she was the prohibitive favorite going into the 2008 primaries, the one who had the advantage of having most of the ‘super-delegates’ locked up, along with a ton of money — and this was before she set up a private server as Secretary of State — and she still lost the nomination to a man with a funny name and less than four years as a United States Senator.
In 2016, she went into the primaries just as she had in 2008, the prohibitive favorite, the designated next President, and once again her lack of personal appeal cost her the race. Oh, she won the nomination, with the covert assistance of the supposed-to-be-neutral DNC, and Donna Brazile funneling her debate questions in advance, but the real reason was that she didn’t have an opponent with the charisma of Barack Obama. She was facing Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, all reasonable candidates, but none of whom had the real spark of Mr Obama. It was only after she wound up facing the one candidate the Democrats hoped the GOP would nominate that she got squashed.Unspoken even by the pundits discussing Mr Obama’s claim on the morning news shows is another criticism by the President of Mrs Clinton’s campaign. The Democrats tried to ignore it, and still no one will say it, but Mr Trump’s statements that Mrs Clinton wasn’t physically fit enough were borne out by her campaign. She took days off, she rested, she took it easy when she needed to be fighting harder than she ever had in her life. Why? It’s simple, really: she didn’t fight harder because she couldn’t, she simply wasn’t strong enough. Mrs Clinton is 69 years old, a year younger than Mr Trump, and she very much looked and acted her age, while Mr Trump was the high-energy candidate, criss-crossing the country, doing more appearances and more rallies, and his rallies drew far more people. It would be nice if the Democrats’ partisans were honest enough to admit that Mrs Clinton’s health was a problem for her, but they won’t.
Could President Obama have marshaled enough voters in the (unexpected) swing states to have won a third term? Yes, I believe that he could have, because he had already done so, twice before. As I’ve said previously about former President Clinton’s advice being ignored by the whiz kids of Mrs Clinton’s campaign, you don’t ignore the wisdom of someone who has won two presidential campaigns.