President Barack Obama sat down for a final interview with his former senior adviser and current CNN contributor David Axelrod.
Speaking about a hypothetical third run for the Oval Office, Obama said that he could have gotten most Americans mobilized behind him around a concept that worked for him so successfully in his previous runs, and one that he vocalized in his famous 2004 breakout speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“The problem is, it doesn’t always manifest itself in politics, right?” the President said. “You know, I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that 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 that Republicans — naming Senate Majority Leader and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, in particular — “specifically mobilized a backlash to this vision” of an American united.
The President accused McConnell of acting “very cynically in rejecting his vision, one that he was trying to bring out. He also said that Republicans “can just throw sand in the gears” and prove disunity through their own actions. “That if we just say no, then that will puncture the balloon, that all this talk about hope and change and no red state and blue state is proven to be a mirage, a fantasy.”
In the long interview produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Obama also spoke about the victory of Republican President-elect Donald Trump saying that it does not mean that those dreams have failed.
“Obviously, in the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that somehow, it really was a fantasy,” said Obama. “What I would argue is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one American that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism.”
The President said that he believes that most Americans still subscribe to his 2008 campaign vision of hope and change despite Trump’s victory. “Now, I would argue that during the entire eight years that I’ve been president, that spirit of America has still been there in all sorts of way,” He said. “It manifests itself in communities all across the country. We see it in this younger generation that is smarter, more tolerant, more innovative, more creative, more entrepreneurial, would not even thing about, you know, discriminating somebody against, for example, because of their sexual orientation.”
Of course, President-elect Trump took a single, shallow message away from Obama’s entire interview — that Obama was saying that he could have won an election against Donald Trump. On Monday afternoon, he tweeted:
“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.”
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016