Former President Barack Obama told donors at a pricey Silicon Valley fundraiser Thursday that Democrats need to “chill out” about the crowded Democratic presidential field and be prepared to fully back the eventual nominee in order to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
“The field will narrow and there’s going to be one person, and if that is not your perfect candidate ... I don’t care. The choice is so stark and the stakes are so high you cannot afford to be ambivalent,” Obama told about 100 people at a private home in Los Altos Hills, CNN reported.
The former president’s advice followed his warning last month to the “politically woke” not to be such purists. Last week, he urged Democrats to be “rooted in reality.” The “average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” he said.
At the fundraiser, Obama cautioned that “flaws are magnified” during primaries and debates. “There will be differences,” but they are “relatively minor” compared to beating Trump, he argued.
“Everyone needs to chill out about the candidates, but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process, and making sure we’re hitting the ground running,” Obama urged.
“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,” he said.
Obama seemed pleased about the diversity of the Democratic field but acknowledged the challenges some candidates may face. “We have a number of women candidates, and we have one gay candidate, and those candidates will have barriers if they win the nomination, just like I did,” he said.
Tickets for the event, which benefited the Democratic National Committee’s Democratic Unity Fund, ranged from $10,000 to $355,000. The top ticket-holders got to attend a VIP reception with Obama.