BY TRACY WILKINSON
TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU / TNS
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he could have defeated Donald Trump in last month’s election by recapturing the same “vision of hope” that twice carried him to the presidency.
Obama also was mildly critical of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, saying her campaign didn’t do enough to get her message out.
The remarks were notable because Obama has been careful since the election to avoid criticizing Trump, or to deliver a post-mortem on Clinton’s failed bid.
Obama spoke in an interview with Democratic political operative and former senior adviser David Axelrod for his The Axe Reports podcast. The interview was released by CNN Monday.
‘Confident’ in vision
“You know, I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I – if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Obama said.
His comments were part of a wider discussion of what he called “ugly” sentiments of racism and xenophobia that resurfaced during the 2016 campaign.
Obama repeated his assertion that Clinton faced a double standard as a woman that put her at a disadvantage.
But he also said a kind of complacency set in that made the Clinton campaign too cautious and thus unable to get its message out enough.
“If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer,” Obama said.
Obama spoke of his family, the strength he’d gotten from wife Michelle, and the improbability of his own political career.
Obama also said the spirit that his candidacy originally inspired, especially among young people, was “never snuffed out” despite the last eight years of turmoil.
“The idealism and the dedication stayed with the staff and got us through some really hard times,” he said.