Dem Strategist: Party ‘Badly’ Needs Obama Back

Former President Barack Obama / Getty Images

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Democrats lack a deep bench for the 2018 and 2020 elections and "badly need" former President Barack Obama to return to public life, according to several Democratic strategists.

Brand Bannon is one strategist who has argued Obama needs to take a more prominent role in the Democratic Party, the Hill reported Monday.

"Democrats badly need Barack Obama," Bannonn said. "He offers such a vivid contrast to Trump in behavior and temperament."

"He always sounded reasonable and acted responsibly even if you disagreed with him," he said. "None of the potential Democratic presidential candidates have the visibility or credibility to be effective."

The former president is expected to campaign publicly for Democrats in the 2018 election cycle, as he did during 2016. He has already been involved in fundraising efforts. However, his reentrance into public life will be a "delicate dance," one aide told the Hill.

Obama has said he is wary of sliding back into the role of party leader because doing so could prevent new leaders from emerging. Many Democrats acknowledge the concern; however, Bannon and others do not think the party can afford to have him in the shadows.

The former president made a splash in the wake of President Donald Trump's controversial comments about the protests and death in Charlottesville, Va. Obama tweeted out a quote from Nelson Mandela that subsequently became the "most popular tweet ever".

Obama's cautious stance is not enough for some Democrats, however. Brent Budowsky, a former Democratic aide and columnist for the Hill, said he "should play a far more aggressive role, starting today, to win back the House and Senate in 2018."

"America faces an enormous political crisis and it is unconscionable how little Obama and other former top officials have done to help Democrats since Trump began his ugly abuses of power."

"Under Obama's eight years, Democrats lost power at every level of national and state government, and Obama should feel an urgent sense of duty, especially on fundraising, and act with the fierce urgency of now and not generic promises about the future," Budowsky added. "Obama should spend less time giving paid speeches and more time raising real money for Democrats."

In contrast, one former senior administration official told the Hill that Obama has kept a low profile because he does not want to serve as a "foil" for Trump.

"The shit is hitting the fan on the other side," the former official said. "Why play the foil?"

Democratic strategist Christy Setzer agreed, suggesting absence makes the heart grow fonder.

"For Democrats, never has the contrast been stronger between what we just gave up and what we have now," she said.

Setzer was quick to add, however, that in order for 2020 hopefuls to publicly come into their own, Obama would need to retain a backseat publicly.

"Right now, we're still trying to figure out who the next leaders of the party are. Until that's more clear, Obama can't be as prominent," she said.

Still, Obama's departure has left a number of Democrats "longing" for his return.

"I think a lot of Democrats are really missing him," the former senior administration official said. "I think that's pretty evident."

Charles Fain Lehman

Charles Fain Lehman   Email Charles | Full Bio | RSS
Charles Fain Lehman is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. Originally hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, he graduated from Yale in 2016. Before coming to the Free Beacon, Charles spent the 2016 election cycle as a House Research Analyst with America Rising.

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