fog.png
Thursday May 28th, 2020 2:39PM

Obama emerges as central figure in 2020 presidential race

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly eight years after he was last on the ballot, Barack Obama is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential election.

Democrats are eagerly embracing Obama as a political wingman for Joe Biden, who spent two terms by his side as vice president. Obama remains the party’s most popular figure, particularly with black voters and younger Democrats, and Biden’s presidential campaign is planning for him to have a highly visible role in the months to come.

For President Donald Trump, that means an opportunity to focus the spotlight on one of his favorite political foils. In recent days, Trump and his allies have aggressively pushed conspiracy theories about Obama designed to fire up the president’s conservative base, taint Biden by association and distract from the glut of grim health and economic news from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Partisans on both sides want to make this about Obama,” said Ned Price, who served as spokesperson for Obama’s White House National Security Council.

The renewed political focus on Obama sets the stage for an election about the nation’s future that will also be about its past. As Biden looks to Obama for personal validation, he’s also running to restore some of the former president’s legacy, which has been systematically dismantled by Trump. The current president is running in part to finish that job.

Yet Trump’s anti-Obama push also frequently takes on a darker, more conspiratorial tone that goes far beyond differences in health care policy and America’s role in the world. His current focus is on the actions Obama, Biden and their national security advisers took in the closing days of their administration, as they viewed intelligence reports about Michael Flynn. Flynn had a short-lived stint as Trump’s national security adviser before being fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

Trump’s own administration acknowledged on Wednesday that Obama advisers followed proper procedures in privately “unmasking” Flynn’s name, which was redacted in the intelligence reports for privacy reasons. Flynn ultimately pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, though Trump’s Justice Department moved last week to drop the case against him.

Despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by Obama, Biden or other administration officials, Trump is eagerly pushing the notion of an unspecified crime, branding it “Obamagate.” He’s being backed up by Republican allies, including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who took to the Senate floor this week to ask of the Flynn matter: “What did Obama and Biden know, and when did they know it?”

Trump’s zeal has sparked fears among some former Obama and Biden advisers about how far he may be willing to go in using the levers of government to push his case against them in an election year. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe that ensnared Flynn and other Trump associates. And on Thursday, Trump tweeted that he wanted Congress to call Obama to testify before lawmakers.

Trump’s renewed focus on Obama comes as Republicans grow increasingly anxious that the rising coronavirus death toll and cratering economy will damage the president’s reelection prospects in November. More than 84,000 Americans have died from the virus, and more than 30 million have claimed unemployment.

Biden’s campaign drew a direct connection between the president’s attacks on Obama and the twin crises battering his administration.

“It’s no surprise that the president is erratically lashing out at President Obama, desperate to distract from his own failures as commander in chief that have cost thousands of Americans their lives during this crisis,” said TJ Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesman.

Trump’s emphasis on Obama also comes as the former president begins to emerge from a three-year period of political restraint as he prepares to embrace his role as leading surrogate for Biden. Last week, Obama told a large gathering of alumni from his administration that DOJ’s decision to drop the Flynn case put the “rule of law at risk.” He also criticized the Trump White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s campaign has been eager to get Obama involved in the election, though his exact role is still forming, particularly given that the pandemic has upended the campaign’s plans for rallies and other in-person events in battleground states. The former president is also expected to campaign for Democratic House and Senate candidates across the country.

Though Obama campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, he has mostly tried to avoid overt politics since leaving the White House. He’s spoken out publicly against Trump on rare occasions, frustrating many Democrats who have wanted him to be more aggressive in calling out his successor.

But the 2020 election has always loomed as the moment when Obama would step off the sidelines, and he’s told advisers he’s eager to do so. Despite his strident public neutrality during the Democratic primary, he spoke to Biden regularly and has continued to do so as the campaign moves into the general election, according to aides.

Biden’s campaign sees Obama as a clear asset as they seek not only to energize Democrats, but also to appeal to independents and more moderate Republicans who may be wary of four more years of Trump in the White House.

A recent Monmouth University poll found 57% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. That includes 92% of Democrats and 19% of Republicans.

Obama’s favorable ratings are higher than either of the men who will be on the ballot in November. The same poll showed 41% of Americans had a favorable opinion of Biden, and 40% viewed Trump in a favorable light.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow Julie Pace at https://twitter.com/jpaceDC.

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Obama emerges as central figure in 2020 presidential race
It's been nearly eight years since Barack Obama was on the ballot, but the former president is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 election
12:21AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Senate to consider renewal of surveillance laws
The Senate is expected to vote on whether to extend three surveillance authorities as senators of both parties express concerns that the laws infringe on Americans’ rights
12:17AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump's push for opening school clashes with Fauci's caution
President Donald Trump is pushing governors to reopen schools as soon as possible, framing the effort to resume classes as a sign that the U.S. is coming back from the coronavirus outbreak
12:13AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Asian shares fall as hopes fade for quick economic rebound
Asian shares are lower on pessimism about life getting back to normal soon amid the global pandemic, even as Japan prepares to let businesses reopen in some regions
11:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
New Zealand barber snips away at midnight as nation reopens
New Zealand has dropped most of its lockdown restrictions as the country prepared itself for a new normal
10:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump, GOP launch broad attack on Russia probe foundations
President Donald Trump and Republicans are launching a broad election-year attack on the foundation of the Russia investigation
10:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
911 call, text hint at confrontation days before Arbery shot
The owner of a house under construction that played a role in the deadly shooting of a black man in Georgia says nothing was stolen from the house
8:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
Republican wins House seat in heavily Democratic California
A Republican has captured a vacant U.S. House seat north of Los Angeles with support from President Donald Trump
7:40PM ( 5 hours ago )
Virus restrictions fuel anti-government 'boogaloo' movement
It's a fringe movement with roots in an online meme culture steeped in irony and dark humor
6:26PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Republican claims victory in special California House vote
A former Navy combat pilot is claiming victory in the fight for an open U.S. House seat north of Los Angeles
5:11PM ( 7 hours ago )
North Dakota governor funds PAC targeting fellow Republican
Republican North Dakota Gov. Burgum is putting $195,000 of his own money into a political action campaign that has set its sights on defeating one of the most powerful members of the Legislature and a member of his own party
3:38PM ( 9 hours ago )
Paul Manafort released from prison due to virus concerns
Paul Manafort has been jailed since June 2018 following his conviction as part of the special counsel’s Russia investigation
2:50PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Elections
AP Courtside: Phone arguments on electors shunning Clinton
The first case before the Supreme Court in Wednesday’s phone arguments involves three Washington state electors who in 2016 voted for Colin Powell for president rather than the state’s vote winner, Hillary Clinton
9:00AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Courtside: Last day of phone arguments is about electors
It's the last day of phone arguments by the Supreme Court
8:01AM ( 16 hours ago )
Ocasio-Cortez among top Dems promoting Biden-Sanders unity
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his former rival Bernie Sanders have announced the members of joint task forces their campaigns will use to hammer out consensus on six key policy issues
5:33AM ( 19 hours ago )
General Election News
Despite virus, Pompeo in Israel to talk West Bank annexation
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Israel for meetings with Benjamin Netanyahu and the prime minister's new governing partner to discuss Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank
7:36AM ( 17 hours ago )
Biden's VP pick isn't the biggest issue for Latino activists
Joe Biden would have to do more than select a Latina running mate to win over Hispanics whose support is crucial in the fall
12:35AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden, Sasse win easily in Nebraska's in-person primary
Nebraska’s primary election was overwhelmingly quiet as voters steered clear of polling sites while shattering the state record for absentee voting with nearly 400,000 mail-in ballots
9:16PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Singapore loosens coronavirus restrictions
Singaporeans will be able to get a haircut at the barber or pop in to their favorite bakery as the government loosens coronavirus restrictions three weeks before a partial lockdown ends
1:14AM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: South Korea reports 27 new coronavirus cases
South Korea has reported 27 new cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours
12:15AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: China reports 1 new coronavirus case
China reported just one new coronavirus case Tuesday as the government presses ahead with re-opening measures, including allowing Beijing middle school senior students to return to class and Shanghai Disneyland to open its gates again to a limited number of visitors
9:45PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Trump casts doubt on mail voting. His campaign promotes it.
President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is helping Republican voters cast their ballots through the mail even as the president calls the process unreliable
12:15AM ( 2 days ago )
Biden campaign reports raising $60 million with DNC in April
Joe Biden's presidential campaign says it jointly raised $60 million in April along with the Democratic National Committee
6:41PM ( 2 days ago )
Pandemic creates electoral uncertainty for Trump, Democrats
President Donald Trump’s reelection is facing growing headwinds less than six months before Election Day
7:29AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Senate to consider renewal of surveillance laws
The Senate is expected to vote on whether to extend three surveillance authorities as senators of both parties express concerns that the laws infringe on Americans’ rights
12:17AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Trump's push for opening school clashes with Fauci's caution
President Donald Trump is pushing governors to reopen schools as soon as possible, framing the effort to resume classes as a sign that the U.S. is coming back from the coronavirus outbreak
12:13AM ( 36 minutes ago )
US immunologist warns of 'darkest winter' if virus rebounds
The U.S. immunologist who says he lost his government job because he warned the Trump administration to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic isn't backing off his bleak forecast
12:10AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Q&A: What does 'unmasking' someone in an intel report mean?
There is another kind of masking in the news that doesn't have anything to do with COVID-19
12:09AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Ahead of election, Trump attacks Russia probe and Democrats
President Donald Trump and Republicans are launching a broad election-year attack on the foundation of the Russia investigation
12:07AM ( 41 minutes ago )