On November 9th, Obama sat down with Jann Wenner from Rolling Stone for his fourth and final interview as President of the United States.
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) November 29, 2016
Wenner admittedly expected to be conducting the interview under different circumstances and switched gears to focus the conversation around Hillary Clinton’s tough loss and future of the Democratic Party.
President Obama said he was disappointed with the results but he wasn’t entirely surprised. In the beginning of the interview, he told Wenner:
“That’s the thing about democracy. That’s the thing about voting. It doesn’t mean polls are irrelevant, but there is always a human variable involved in this. So I think the odds of Donald Trump winning were always around 20 percent. That [doesn’t] seem like a lot, but one out of five is not that unusual. It’s not a miracle.”
Throughout the interview, Obama made distinct connections between the Democratic Party’s pitfalls, his previous campaigns and what Donald Trump was able to successfully do throughout the election.
Manufacturing – A Top Priority
“If you look at Michigan, which I won, not just in 2008 but in 2012, by a wide margin, we paid a lot of attention to manufacturing jobs…”
Donald Trump also won Michigan and emphasized his support for manufacturing jobs. He recently made good on a campaign promise to convince Indiana-based Carrier to keep jobs in the U.S., instead of moving them to Mexico as intended.
We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy. More details soon.
— Carrier (@Carrier) November 30, 2016
Working-Class White Voters
“…there is a cohort of working-class white voters that voted for me in sizable numbers…In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump.”
On the Ground In Iowa
Image Credit: Screenshot/New York Times
“When we’re on the ground, we do well. This is why I won Iowa.”
The Democratic Downfall
Throughout the interview, President Obama reiterated one major pitfall for the Democratic Party: they weren’t in touch with voters enough.
“Part of it is also Democrats not working at a grassroots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments. That part of the critique of the Democratic Party is accurate.”
“I think it is really important for us…to think about how we are operating on the ground and showing up everywhere and fighting for the support of folks. If we are not on the ground, and people are not hearing and seeing us face-to-face, then we’ll keep on losing.”
“Part of the reason Roy Cooper, that North Carolina governor-elect, won is because he was on the ground in those communities and he was working hard.”
“What is true, though, is that whatever policy prescriptions that we’ve been proposing don’t reach, are not heard, by the folks in these communities.”
This isn’t the first time that President Obama has expressed the importance of candidates putting themselves in front of voters so that they can relate to them.
On the Monday after the election, Obama told reporters:
“One of the issues Democrats have to be clear on is that we have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. I won Iowa because I spent 87 days going to every small town, fair and fish fry and DFW hall. You win because people get a chance to see you, see who you stand for and who you’re fighting for.”
His coverage at The Daily Beast is a prime example of how hard Donald Trump worked to ensure people knew who he was and what he stood for.
The site, known to be left-leaning, conducted multiple interviews with Trump, on his plane, at his office and even at his home. In contrast, over the course the campaign, the site got zero interviews with Hillary Clinton or her family.
Obama’s final interview drives home the message that in order to get votes, you need to hit the campaign trail hard. In an effort to do just that, Donald Trump held at least 400 rallies since his announcement in June 2015.
These two figures — Barack Obama and Donald Trump — are often viewed as polar opposites, but they seem to have at least one thing in common: they both know how you make it to the Oval Office.