Politics

President Obama Weighs in on the 2016 Election

Just a week away from the Iowa caucus, President Barack Obama weighed in on the 2016 presidential election and outlined some of the differences between the leading Democratic candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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In an exclusive interview published by Politico on Monday, Obama said that Sanders "tapped into" the idealism of the Democratic party, allowing the candidate to advance and seize support in the polls. But the president rejected the idea that there were strong parallels between his 2008 presidential campaign and Sanders' current run.

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"I think that what is — you know, if you look at both of them, I think they're both passionate about giving everybody a shot," Obama said. "I think they're both passionate about kids having a great education. I think they want to make sure everybody has health care. I think that they both believe in a tax system that is fair and not tilted towards, you know, the folks at the very top."

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While the candidates' policy proposals appear to complement each other in some respects, Obama also contrasted the individual challenges and advantages of Sanders and Clinton.

He said that "Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete longshot and just letting loose," whereas Clinton was not afforded quite the same benefits. "I think Hillary came in with the — both privilege and burden of being perceived as the frontrunner," he said. "And, as a consequence, you know, where they stood at the beginning probably helps to explain why the language sometimes is different."

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The interview touched on the Iowa caucuses, a pre-election voting event that historically serves as an indicator of how each candidate is faring among prospective voters. Obama suggested that Clinton has faced intense media criticism in the months since she announced her candidacy — and that if Bernie came out as the winner in Iowa, he would likely be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

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"I think that if Bernie won Iowa or won New Hampshire, then you guys are going to do your jobs and, you know, you're going to dig into his proposals and how much they cost and what does it mean, and, you know, how does his tax policy work and he's subjected, then, to a rigor that hasn't happened yet, but that Hillary is very well familiar with," Obama said.