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Obama Warns Democrats Against Moving Too Far Left, 2020 Critique Labeled 'Pseudo' Endorsement of Joe Biden

Political pundits pored over former President Barack Obama's remarks to liberal donors in Washington Friday that cautioned Democratic primary candidates against moving too far left on a series of policy proposals.

Obama's brief comments about the 2020 Democratic candidate field in remarks to liberal and Democratic donors in Washington offered some of his very first critiques of how his party is approaching the upcoming primaries. Obama urged the candidates against pushing too far to the left in their primary campaigns that may alienate general election moderate voters when the nominee ultimately faces off against President Donald Trump. As The New York Times first reported, the former president told Democrats not to let "certain left-leaning Twitter feeds" dictate their policies.

Obama stressed that the average American doesn't want to "tear down [the] system" or lead a social revolution as candidates such as Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders have suggested. His critique offered no specific names or platforms, but he cited health care and immigration as two areas where Democratic contenders may have gone too far left to beat Trump.

"Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality," Obama told the Washington donors. "The average American doesn't think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it."

Both Republican and Democratic political pundits dissected Obama's brief comments Saturday on cable news, calling it a "pseudo-endorsement" of his former vice president, Joe Biden. The comments were perceived as an implicit shot against progressive Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and poked at the Democratic divide exposed in 2016 between Sanders and Obama-backed establishment candidate Hillary Clinton.

Obama warned that "the activist wing of our party" should not push the Democratic candidates to propose policies that may leave moderates and Independent voters feeling estranged before the general election.

Speaking on Fox News Saturday, Democratic strategist and 2008 Obama for America regional field director Robin Biro labeled the former president's words an implicit endorsement of Biden. Biro said that in Obama's heart, he is a pragmatic "moderate-centrist," who dialed back his progressive rhetoric after defeating Clinton to be the 2008 Democratic nominee.

"We had to make it more palatable to the general election voter," Biro recalled.

Eric Beach, a Republican strategist also on Fox News Saturday, remarked that Obama's commentary was a nameless endorsement of Biden and a plea for cooler, moderate heads to prevail in the primary process. Beach added that he believes billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg entered the race in order to put more money on the side of moderates like himself and Biden.

Obama told the donors they should not be worried about not having a "robust primary," and cited his own lengthy battle with Clinton as evidence of a stronger candidate emerging from the fight.

"For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you I had a very robust primary," Obama said Friday evening. "I'm confident that at the end of the process we will have a candidate that has been tested."

obama warns democrats moderate biden
Political pundits poured over former President Barack Obama's remarks to liberal donors Friday which cautioned Democratic primary candidates against moving too far left on a series of policy proposals. ALEX WONG / STAFF/Getty Images
Obama Warns Democrats Against Moving Too Far Left, 2020 Critique Labeled 'Pseudo' Endorsement of Joe Biden | U.S.