Former President Barack Obama has reportedly held multiple one-on-one meetings with potential 2020 Democrat presidential candidates as he looks to help his party regain control of the White House.
Citing multiple sources, Politico was the first to report on the meetings, which have been held in Obama’s Washington, D.C. office. The former president is not set to support or endorse any one candidate, but he reportedly does want to be involved in the Democratic Party’s attempts to bounce back in the 2018 midterms and in 2020.
The meeting have been held in secret, according to Politico, due to the fact that Obama does not like his private interactions to become public.
The nine potential candidates Trump has met with reportedly include Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
“The president was generous with his time and advice, and he was excited to talk about the future,” said a source who is familiar with one of the meetings.
Obama’s office, though, refused to confirm the meetings to Politico.
In 2016, Democrats had only two major candidates for president — Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
However, they are expecting a much larger field in 2020, with high-profile figures like California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe all rumored to be interested in running.
But not all of those potential candidates have met with Obama, and according to CNN, the one-on-one meetings the former president did hold had little to do with specific strategies.
“This is not about where you put your Sioux City, Iowa office,” a Democrat source told the network, adding that Obama spends “much more time on how to respond to (President Donald Trump), positioning and broader challenges with the party.”
“He has been very clear about the need for the Democratic Party to rebuild and part of that is lifting up the next generation of leaders,” the Democrat said. “So if people want advice or a gut check or just to come in and look at the challenges we face, he is happy to do that.”
Sanders reportedly contacted Obama to set up their meeting, during which they talked more about the general future of the Democratic Party than whether or not Sanders would run in 2020.
Obama has also reportedly kept in touch with Biden — his former vice president — who is expected to announce his plans for 2020 following the midterms, according to The Hill.
Per Politico, Obama believes that going forward, Democrats should focus less on “kitchen table issues” and more on things that will “stick in the long term,” like the alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Obama has stayed out of the spotlight since he left office in January 2017, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who has also met with the former president — said he expects Obama to be more visible as he campaigns for Democrat candidates in the 2018 midterms.
“I think it’s great that he’s meeting with people who are interested in the future of the country and the party,” a source with knowledge of one of Obama’s one-on-one meetings told Politico.
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