Barack Obama Is 'Very Concerned' About Country, Will Get Involved in 2020 Campaign, Says Former Adviser

A former senior adviser to President Barack Obama has said that the president is deeply concerned about the direction of the U.S., and that the two-term president plans to be involved in Democratic efforts to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Valerie Jarrett, who worked for Obama from 2008 until 2017, told the BBC that her former boss is "very concerned about the direction our country is going."

Obama spoke out against the Republican Party and Trump—who he described as "a symptom, not the cause" of radical right-wing politics—during last year's midterm elections. Jarrett told interviewer Stephen Sackur "my expectation is that he would do the same in the general election."

Jarrett also discussed the current field of Democratic candidates, who face their first on-stage debate next week. But despite her years working alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, Jarrett would not be drawn on which candidate will offer Democrats the best chance to retake the White House in 2020.

"I think all of us good Democrats need to get behind whoever is the nominee and ensure that that person wins the election," she said. "I have counseled several of the candidates to not beat up so much on their opponents, that whoever emerges as the nominee goes into the general election in a weakened state."

Though she would not pick a front-runner, Jarrett said she was pleased with the quality on show in the 23-person field. "I think we have an embarrassment of riches," Jarrett explained. "I think we have some terrific candidates and it's still very early so we'll see what happens."

When Sackur asked Jarrett for her personal endorsement, the former adviser said she was "not going to put my thumb on the scale. Because at this time when Barack Obama was running in 2007, he was down by 30 points and Hilary Clinton was the inevitable candidate. So I'm not going to put my thumb on the scale… We haven't even had our first debates."

Sackur brought the conversation back around to Biden, who has emerged as the early front runner in the Democratic field. Jarrett said Biden "is terrific, he'd make a great president." Though she again resisted pressure to label him as the best candidate, she told Sacker, "I've said quite publicly I think that Vice President Biden was indispensable to President Obama. He would make a terrific president."

The Democratic nomination process is laying bare the different ideological approaches within the party, but Jarrett rejected the idea that a "gulf" is opening up between different strains of the organization. "We've always had a big tent," she told Sackur. "All are welcome in our party and there are always robust ideas."

Barack Obama, 2020 Election, Donald Trump, adviser
President Barack Obama speaks to young leaders from across Europe in a Town Hall-styled session on April 06, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty
Barack Obama Is 'Very Concerned' About Country, Will Get Involved in 2020 Campaign, Says Former Adviser | Politics