In U.S., Waiting for Obama as 2020 Nears

In the following timely article, Politico magazine reflects on the upcoming 2020 U.S. election and the influential and behind-the-scenes role of former President Barack Obama, who has emerged during the tumultuous Trump era as one of the most beloved and globally admired American presidents in history. (POLITICO Illustration/AP, Getty Images)

POLITICO

The Democratic establishment is counting on him to stop Trump and, perhaps, stave off Bernie as well. But can his cerebral politics still galvanize voters in an age of extremes?

Today, almost every Democratic presidential campaign starts with what one close adviser to Barack Obama calls “The Pilgrimage”: the journey to the West End to meet the former president.

The West End of Washington, D.C., sandwiched between the better-known districts of Georgetown and Dupont Circle, is known as a neighborhood that people travel through, not to. For elite Democrats, that changed four years ago when Obama set up his personal office here. You wouldn’t know from outside that one of its bland concrete and glass building houses the man whom polls rank as the most popular Democrat in America, and who, according to one global survey, is the second-most admired man in the world.

The first presidential pilgrims started in early 2018, and they continued to trickle through this summer. Not every declared candidate has met with Obama—Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard were notable no-shows—but he let it be known he was available to anyone seeking advice. As a rule of thumb, the closer one is to Obama personally, the less important the West End summit is. Joe Biden, one of only two candidates who Obama knows at a familial, rather than strictly professional level, was an “exception,” said an Obama adviser, who had a rolling series of conversations about 2020, the most recent of which was backstage at the funeral for Elijah Cummings in Baltimore on October 25. Deval Patrick, a close Obama pal and board member at the Obama Foundation who parachuted into the race last week, checked in with a phone call before announcing.

For the others—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, and more—the meeting was as important as planning their kickoff rally or first campaign ad…

Ostensibly the meetings are for the aspiring candidates to gain some wisdom from the last Democrat to win an open presidential primary and the presidency, but they also allow Obama to collect his own intelligence about what he and his closest advisers have made clear is all that matters to him: who can beat Donald Trump.

Read the full article at politico.com »


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