AP Photo/Morry Gash
- Former President Barack Obama warned Democratic donors in Washington last Friday that 2020 candidates shouldn't push for policies that would fundamentally restructure American society.
- "The average American doesn't think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it," Obama said.
- The comments were an indirect rebuke of Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for a "political revolution" and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign for "big, structural change."
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Former President Barack Obama waded into the Democratic primary last Friday, warning Democratic donors that 2020 candidates shouldn't push for policies that would fundamentally restructure American society.
"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 the 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," Obama said at an event in Washington, according to CBS News.
He added that most Americans are more interested in "improvement" than "revolutionary" change.
"The average American doesn't think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it," he said.
Obama argued that while there's a place for activists pushing Democrats to the left, the presidential nominee needs to appeal to a broad swath of the public.
The comments, the most strongly-worded Obama has yet to make about the 2020 primary, were an implicit rebuke of Sen. Bernie Sanders' call for a "political revolution" and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign for "big, structural change." And they suggested that Obama stands behind former Vice President Joe Biden's more moderate approach in the primary.
Obama didn't name any candidate, but he did mention healthcare and immigration as issues where Democratic candidates have offered policy solutions that he thinks are too radical for the average voter.
"I don't think we should be deluded into thinking that the resistance to certain approaches to things is simply because voters haven't heard a bold enough proposal and if they hear something as bold as possible then immediately that's going to activate them," Obama said.
The former president noted that he supports competitive primaries and said the nominee will be strengthened in a general election by having endured months of tough campaigning.
"For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you I had a very robust primary," he said. "I'm confident that at the end of the process we will have a candidate that has been tested."
- Read more:
- Presidents can be impeached for almost anything. These are the alleged crimes that could lead to Trump's impeachment
- Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the 2020 progressive standard-bearers. Here's where they disagree on policy
- Michael Bloomberg's past comments about women and rape will likely haunt him on the 2020 campaign trail
- Michael Bloomberg's late entry into the 2020 race is motivated by fear among Democrats that Joe Biden's campaign is in a 'dire' place