President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE 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.
Obama made reference to the media’s close coverage of the tumultuous campaign horse race as if “every twist and turn ... is somehow determinative of what’s going to happen.”
“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 TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis 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 Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty 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.”