Barack Obama has been quietly meeting with a number of possible Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential race, multiple sources tell Politico and CNN. Potential candidates including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Deval Patrick have had one-on-one sitdowns with the former president at his Washington office in recent months, though, sources say, the subject of the 2020 race hasn't come up in many of the conversations. Rather, Obama is eager to discuss the Democratic Party's prospects in both the midterms and the 2020 election and how those prospects can be improved in order to push back against President Trump and his policies, and is looking to act as a "sounding board" for those likely to play a large role in the party's future. Obama will, however, offer his opinion on campaigns and campaigning against Trump specifically, and his help getting donors and party VIPs to return calls.
Obama has also met with Cory Booker, Eric Garcetti, Eric Holder, and lesser-known potential 2020 candidates including former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Peter Buttigieg; and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. Democratic leaders who aren't presidential candidates have been to his office as well, including Harry Reid and multiple senators; Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the DNC chair have spoken to him by phone. Obama has even had conversations with Republicans including John McCain and Trump critic Jeff Flake. Politico notes that donors and others in the party have hoped Obama would take a more public anti-Trump stance, and though he has not done that yet, privately he's urging contributions to the DNC. He is also planning to campaign starting in the fall, initially focusing on down-ballot races. He is not expected to endorse a 2020 presidential candidate until a nominee has emerged.