The Democrat Party is desperate to win back majorities in Congress during the 2018 congressional elections, but they have not taken their eyes off the goal of winning back the White House in 2020.
According to a report from Washington Examiner, former President Barack Obama is working behind the scenes and is holding secret meetings with potential prospects considering a White House run. The former president could be grooming them for a run or simply offering advice and tips for how he won consecutive presidential elections.
Candidates Obama has already met with include Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
“The president was generous with his time and advice, and he was excited to talk about the future,” Washington Examiner reports that a person familiar with one of the meetings said.
As Politico reports, Obama has pulled each individual into his Washington D.C. officer for one-on-one sessions:
All the meetings were arranged quietly, without even some close advisers to the people involved being told of the conversations, in part because of how much Obama bristles at his private meetings becoming public knowledge. All have been confirmed to POLITICO by multiple people who have been briefed on the secretive sit-downs.
The meetings have been at Obama’s personal office on the third floor of the World Wildlife Fund building in D.C.’s West End neighborhood, and they show how a stream of ambitious, searching politicians are looking for guidance and support from the man who has remained the reluctant leader of the Democratic Party, eager to be involved, though not directly. He’s not making any promises of support, though, and is not expected to endorse in the 2020 race until after a nominee has emerged.
The Obama-Sanders meeting reportedly took place in March where the two discussed their roles in the future of the Democrat Party. Sanders, who identifies as an Independent, ran for the Democrat nomination in 2016 but lost to his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton. Sanders reportedly expressed no interest in consecutively running for the presidency.
They talked about the future of the party and their different roles in it. They talked about what the party should be focused on, and what would be distractions. Obama discussed his views on the differences between idealism and practicality, and Sanders responded with his.
They did not get into a specific discussion about whether Sanders would run again for president in 2020.
Obama’s meeting with Warren was more casual and the Massachusetts Senator has already expressed that she has no intention to run for the presidency.
“I am not running for president,” Warren said as the Daily Caller reports.
Biden and Patrick are both still seen as serious contenders to run against Trump for the presidency and their respective talks with Obama could have helped one or both reach a more firm decision:
Obama and Biden remain personally close and speak by phone, and the former vice president also came by for an in-person meeting in January. He’s waiting until after the midterms to make a decision on 2020, though many people see him as leaning toward it. The 2020 race and what Biden’s going to do haven’t come up in those discussions, though, with Obama waiting on his friend to make a decision, according to people who have been briefed on their conversations.
Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor and personal friend whom Obama and many in his inner circle are eager to see get into the 2020 race — and who has recently been making rumblings that he very well might — has been in to the office too. Patrick, though, is on the board of the Obama Foundation, giving them at least an outward reason for the meeting beyond politics.