In a NPR exit interview with Steve Inskeep, President Barack Obama said in his post-White House life he plans to develop “a whole new generation” of Democratic talent.
Partial transcript as follows:
INSKEEP: Were Democrats failing to do that at every level because your party has lost the majority of races at almost every level at this point?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that we haven’t done it as well as we need to. For example, we know that the Republicans, funded through organizations like the Koch brothers, have been very systematic at building from the ground up and communicating to state legislators and financing school board races and public utility commission races, and, you know, I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that we have a bias towards national issues and international issues, and as a consequence I think we’ve ceded too much territory. And I take some responsibility for that. You know, when I came into office, um, you know, we were just putting out fires. We were in a huge crisis situation. And so a lot of the organizing work that we did during the campaign, we started to see right away didn’t immediately translate to, wasn’t immediately transferable to, congressional candidates. And more work would have needed to be done to just build up that structure and, you know, one of the big suggestions that I have for Democrats as I leave, and something that, you know, I have some ideas about is, how do we do more of that ground up building?
INSKEEP: Do you intend to be involved or just give advice?
OBAMA: Well, I think it’s appropriate for me to give advice because I need some sleep. And I’ve promised Michelle a nice vacation. My girls are getting old enough now where I’m clinging to those very last moments before they are out of the house.
INSKEEP: But there was a political organization that was built around you that still exists.
OBAMA: Well, I’m less likely to get involved in all the nuts and bolts of electioneering. In that realm, I’m much more likely to just give advice. What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent. There are such incredible young people who not only worked on my campaign, but I’ve seen in advocacy groups. I’ve seen passionate about issues like climate change or conservation, criminal justice reform, you know, campaigns for a livable wage, or health insurance, and making sure that whatever resources, credibility, spotlight that I can bring to help them rise up. That’s something that I think I can do well, I think Michelle can do well. That’s part of what makes me optimistic about our future because I know those young people are out there ready to lead, and when they start moving into more and more positions of authority, then I think the issues that I care most deeply about are going to be well served.
INSKEEP: You want to be a talent scout and build the bench that Democrats have admitted they don’t have.
OBAMA: Well, not only a talent scout but I think also, you know, a coach, a friend, somebody who can build on the incredible work that has already been done by young people and that to a large degree was responsible for getting me elected.
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