“I want to publicly say how proud I am of Hillary Clinton of a history-making race. We did not get the results we wanted, but we took a step in shattering a barrier that’s still there. And little girls and little boys are going to have a different sense of the possible thanks to her nomination and her candidacy,” Obama said in a call organized by the Democratic National Committee for supporters Monday evening.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t hurt for what was an unexpected loss. Expected losses are hard enough; unexpected ones are just worse. And that’s okay,” he added. “I was telling my team: You’re allowed to mope for a week and a half. Maybe two if you really need it. But after that, we’ve got to brush ourselves off and get back to work. We need to come together and focus on a way ahead.”
Obama’s DNC call came shortly after he held his first post-election press conference. He told reporters that while he believed Democrats had better ideas, those ideas didn’t matter if they weren’t reaching voters.
“Given population distribution across the country, we have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere,” he said.
The president reiterated that point in the call later, saying he hoped that in the coming months, Democrats would be competing “at every level from the DNC to local wards and town committees to assess where we’ve fallen short.”
The Democratic Party is now doing a bit of soul-searching, playing out with the debate over who should be the next chair of the DNC. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has emerged as an early frontrunner, endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the progressive group MoveOn.org. As a black man and the first Muslim member of Congress, he would also offer a sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump.
But he’s far from the only person to throw his hat into the ring. Others considering the job are former Maryland Gov. and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, who was critical of the debate schedule during the presidential primary and is currently a DNC vice chair.
Obama urged people during the Monday evening call to move forward “in a way that’s consistent with who we are as Democrats.”
“It means that we’re listening to each other, we’re reflecting, we’re asking tough questions, we’re respectful of different points of view, we’re basing our decisions on facts and careful analysis,” he said. “We’re taking the long view and we’re strategizing.
“The bottom line is: I don’t know about y’all,” he added, “but I’m still fired up and I’m still ready to go.”