President Obama has a message for the media covering the 2016 presidential campaign: calm down.
“It’s still early in the process, and there’s a tendency, I think, for commentators to hyper-ventilate because it’s good entertainment value,” he said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in the California Bay Area.
“Three to four months later, nobody remembers what all the fuss was about because we get down to the real business of electing a president,” he said.
The comments were Obama’s first extended remarks on the election since Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primaries, in which anti-establishment candidates Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDems: Trump’s first 100 days full of broken promises to middle class Judd Gregg: Trump gets his sea legs Week ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi: 'Of course' Dems can be against abortion Kasich: 'I think political parties are on their way out' Sanders: Democratic Party's model is 'failing' MORE won on the Republican and Democratic sides, respectively.
His words could be seen as an effort to calm the nerves of Democratic insiders. After starting the campaign as a clear front runner, Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWeek ahead: US raises pressure on WikiLeaks Poll: 85 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for her again OMB director: Government shutdown not a 'desired end' MORE, the favored candidate of the party establishment, appears to be in for a lengthy primary battle with the upstart Sanders.
Obama has previously expressed surprise by the enthusiasm generated by Trump and Sanders. But he urged donors attending the $33,400-per-ticket fundraiser to understand that populist candidates in both parties are tapping into something real.
“Despite all the progress we've made ... what is true is that people are anxious,” the president said. “People are deeply concerned about inequality in the sense that the system is rigged against ordinary folks."
"And they're not wrong.”
Obama’s audience was full of members of the “1 percent,” the type of people Sanders, a democratic socialist, has railed against.
The fundraiser was held at the home of Steve Westly — a former California gubernatorial candidate, major Democratic donor and former eBay executive — in Atherton, Ca., annually listed as one of the wealthiest towns in America.
“That disquiet, that concern is expressing itself in the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party, and we need to listen to that,” Obama said. “Because when people are scared, then strange things can happen in politics.
“When people are nervous and feel threatened, we can get a politics that is not about bringing people together, but is about us and them.”