Obama Has Been Meeting With 2020 Presidential Contenders

Former President Barack Obama has had nine different private meetings with possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Politico reported Monday.

Obama reportedly held the one-on-one sessions in his D.C. office over the past several months, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

According to sources, the meetings were kept quiet and even some close advisers were not told of the conversations because Obama feels strongly about keeping his private meetings from becoming public knowledge. The meetings have been at Obama’s personal office in the World Wildlife Fund building on D.C.’s West End.

According to reports, Obama has made no promises of support and he will not be endorsing anyone in the 2020 race until after a nominee has emerged.

Although Obama so far has avoided direct conflict with President Donald Trump he  is concerned about how Democrats can win in the midterm elections in November, as well as how to fight back against President Trump and his political agenda which is contrary to most of what Obama believes.

Obama, however, does not see himself as the person to come up with the Democratic Party’s plan to take back power.  He wants to be a “sounding board” and provide counsel to the Democrats who he thinks will be shaping the future of the party.

“The president was generous with his time and advice, and he was excited to talk about the future,” said one person familiar with the meetings.

Bernie Sanders reportedly had reached out to the former president to request his meeting, which was held in March. They reportedly discussed the future of the Democratic Party but did not discuss if Sanders would run for president in 2020.

Obama has reportedly remained in close contact with Biden since they left office, and they had a private meeting in January.  The former vice president is expected to announce after the 2018 midterms whether or not he will be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020.

The meeting with Warren was Obama’s second since leaving office. The first was in the spring of 2017 after Warren said she was “troubled” by the $400,000 Obama was getting to speak at a Wall Street investment firm. She met again with the president earlier in the spring of this year to discuss issues affecting the Democratic Party.

As is his style, the former president has kept a low profile and has made few public statements since leaving office. He did campaign for some Democratic candidates last year, however,  and will headline his first Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser later in June.

Despite Obama stepping back his political activities since over the past two years, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he expects the former president to be very active and visible during the 2018 midterms.  Reportedly his staff is building out his plan to become much more active in the fall, emphasizing down-ballot races.  He plans to make endorsements, help with fundraising and hit the campaign trail for Democratic candidates.

The news that Barack Obama is playing a key role to help Democrats this year and in the 2020 race is very welcome for a party which has felt beleaguered during the Trump presidency.