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Former Washington Journalist
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A variety of political observers and strategists expressed confusion and dismay with how much President Barack Obama and his legacy came under fire from other Democrats during this week’s CNN Democratic presidential debate.
From his policies for healthcare, to immigration, the Democrats on the debate stage in Detroit, Mich., took repeated aim at Obama in order to land shots on former vice president Joe Biden, who is running for president this year.
“First of all, Barack Obama’s approval rating with Democrats is 96 percent. Donald Trump’s approval rating with Democrats, 4 percent. So the fact that we spent more time talking about a wildly popular president and not talking about Donald Trump is just — ceases to amaze me,” said former Obama political adviser Jim Messina. “And on health care we just won the House of Representatives in large part because we won women voters across this country on health care, on going after Trump’s attempts to get rid of pre-existing conditions, get rid of some of the protection that ObamaCare give us. And instead of talking about that and staying on the offense with Republicans, we’re proposing pie in the sky schemes that will have us on the defense.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo made it clear that Democrats attacking Obama was a bad idea.
“Hasn’t this president made it painfully obvious that he ain’t here to compare plans? He said he won’t even release his health care plan until after the 2020 election. Medicare for all as an issue for voters, take a look at the poll. In-party it’s popularish, but this is the whole country. So I’m not arguing that plans of course not. Plans matter, but not as much as it matters to connect with people on the concern and anxiety that drives the need for plans to fix what ails them. Are plans as compelling as feeling people’s pain? You know, like [Bill] Clinton, like Obama. They weren’t detailed plan guys. Remember the vision thing? … ” Cuomo said. “When did you decide that attacking a president was a good idea but that president should be Obama? Almost more so than the president you will face, the one you all call a criminal and a pathological liar.”
Democrats can make the same points, but in a different way, according to Kirsten Powers, a political analyst and former official in the Clinton administration.
“Well, it’s fair game. It’s not out of bounds. I’m just not sure it’s productive. So certainly President Obama, when he was running for office, he was, you know — and he was running against Hillary Clinton in the primary, he had no problem criticizing things that happened in the Clinton administration. And I think that it’s fine to have some criticisms,” she said. “But I would do it in a different way. I think the Democrats would be well served to say, ‘We want to build on the successes that Obama had,’ versus sort of treating it as though these successes didn’t occur.
“And even the way they’ve portrayed his immigration policy, which I had a lot of criticism for at the time, you still have to recognize what he was dealing with, right?” Powers added. “That he had a Republican Congress, for example, that he actually did do some good things such as the Dreamers Act. So instead, you know, you have Bill de Blasio painting the picture he was the deporter in chief and nothing else. That’s Joe Biden’s job to push back on that kind of stuff.”