Kevin Lewis, an ex-spokesman for President Obama, says the former president is not the leader of the Democratic Party even as he plays an influential role and acts as a unifying force in the party.
“President Obama is a dynamic speaker — he’s someone who can speak to the real ideals which makes us all Americans, but he’s not — if you ask him — he’s not the leader of the Democratic Party,” Lewis said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”
Lewis, who worked for Obama in various capacities for 11 years, instead pointed to other Democratic figures like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) as the leaders of the party ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Lewis’s comments come days after Obama stepped back into the political spotlight with a fiery speech in Illinois before hitting the campaign trail over the weekend.
Obama called out President Trump by name for the first time since he left the White House and Trump moved in.
In his scathing critique while speaking at the University of Illinois on Friday, Obama said Trump was “capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years.”
The former president also urged Americans to vote in the upcoming midterms, saying the biggest threat to democracy isn’t Trump or the Republicans in Congress, but rather “indifference” and “cynicism” among voters.
While the speech was designed to help rally Democrats ahead of the midterms, Lewis argued that the former president’s speech was inspired by his duty to act as a citizen.
“What he is doing is supporting in his own way — and that’s why I called him citizen Obama because all citizens have the right and the ability to get involved whether that be through a post on Facebook or picking up a clipboard and hitting the pavement,” Lewis said.
The speech seemed to fire up many Democrats, but it also emphasizes a glaring lack of cohesive leadership within the party. There is no clearcut official leader of the party, and there has not been a comprehensive platform presented other than opposition to Trump heading into midterms.
Vice President Pence criticized Obama’s speech for getting political and breaking a precedent set by previous presidents.
But Lewis argues that Democrats are facing dire times as they seek to retake control of Congress from the GOP.
“I think this is a very different time — about 60 days until the midterm elections — I think we all see what’s at stake and I think he was laying out a vision and a clear message why all Americans need to get involved for this midterms,” Lewis said.
Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats in the House to wrestle control away from the Republicans and need to pick up two seats to gain control of the Senate.
— Tess Bonn