LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif. — Former President Barack Obama urged Democrats on Thursday to “chill out” about the 2020 Democratic field and focus on building support for a candidate to take on President Trump, who he described as abandoning “core traditions and values” of Americans.
Speaking to party donors a day after the latest Democratic primary debate, Mr. Obama added to a series of recent remarks about American politics and the presidential race, including his recent warning that the candidates not move too far to the left in their policy proposals and his observation that the average American does not want to “tear down the system.”
Democrats should focus less on the differences among the candidates, Mr. Obama said, and instead on defeating President Trump.
“Everybody needs to chill out about the candidates but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind a candidate,” Mr. Obama said.
“There will be differences,” among the candidates, Mr. Obama said, adding that the “ultimate goal is to defeat a president and a party that has, I think, taken a sharp turn away from a lot of the core traditions and values and institutional commitments that built this country.”
Mr. Obama spoke to a group of about 100 donors in Los Altos Hills, California, during an interview with Thomas E. Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, at a fund-raising event for the Democratic Unity Fund, which will be used to help the party’s eventual nominee. Aides to Mr. Obama say that it is the last time he plans to speak this year about the 2020 race.
The remarks come less than a week after Mr. Obama warned against Democratic presidential candidates moving too far to the left, jockeying to win over “left-leaning Twitter feeds” rather than appealing to voters in the middle.
In recent weeks, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that the presidential candidates should stop being concerned with debates over ideological purity and instead focus on beating Mr. Trump.
During an event in Washington, D.C., last weekend, Mr. Obama was expected to reassure anxious donors about the Democratic field, but instead put in blunt terms, issuing what appeared to be a warning to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the two top liberals in the presidential race, who are pushing for extensive changes to the economic, health care and political systems.
“The average American doesn’t think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” Mr. Obama said Friday during the annual meeting of the progressive Democracy Alliance in Washington with Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia candidate for governor. “There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who they just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff.”
During Wednesday’s democratic presidential debate, several candidates spoke of recreating the Obama coalition.
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