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Obama's Advice to Dems: Slow Down on the 'Revolution'

At donor event, No. 44 warns presidential candidates against a complete system overhaul
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2019 8:57 AM CST
President Obama speaks at the APEC CEO Summit at the China National Convention Center in Beijing on Nov. 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Wang Zhao, Pool)

(Newser) – Barack Obama is very unlikely to give his official endorsement to one of the Democratic candidates running for president until the primary is over, but he is offering words of advice that seem aimed at the more left-leaning ones. On Friday, the former president offered what the New York Times calls an "unusual warning" before the Democracy Alliance, a group of wealthy liberal donors, cautioning candidates against pushing progressive ideas that may still be a hard sell for many citizens, like mandatory firearm buybacks, erasure of student debt, and decriminalizing border crossings, per the Washington Post. "This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement," Obama said. "[Americans] like seeing things improved. But the average American doesn't think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. And I think it's important for us not to lose sight of that."

While he didn't name names, both papers point out he's likely referring to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who've called for "political revolution" and "big, structural change." The recent late entry into the race by Deval Patrick, and an apparent run by Mike Bloomberg, both of whom are considered more centrist, is a sign that some Dems are wary of their chances against Trump with increasingly left-leaning ideas. Not that No. 44 is against innovating—he just appears to want to move incrementally and strike a balance. "Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality and the fact that voters, including Democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds or the activist wing of our party," he told the crowd. (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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