Vanity Fair

Obama Thinks He Could Have Won Third Term


Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign sloganeering was some of the most successful in history. In fact, Advertising Age named him the marketer of the year. And he believes that his original “vision” would have won him a third consecutive term had the constitution permitted it.

“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I – if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” said Obama on the Axe Files podcast, hosted by David Axelrod, a former advisor. “I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.”

Obama’s marketing magic didn’t rub off on Hillary Clinton, despite the DNC’s glib confidence that it would. It turns out that even loud endorsements from a charismatic candidate can’t make much of a difference for one who is virtually charmless.

While the opposition’s critiques of Obama were absurd – he was not a legitimate American citizen, he was a secret terrorist – their criticisms of Clinton were pretty reasonable. They portrayed her as an out-of-touch lifelong careerist politician with deep ties to corporate power. One who was a liability to national security, as evidenced by the email scandal. The mud stuck.


Unsurprisingly, Trump has responded to Obama’s claim with braggadocio. “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me,” he tweeted. “HE should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.”

While Clinton carried the popular vote by a margin of 3 million votes, Trump refuses to concede even that victory for the Democrats. He has claimed that the popular vote victory was a reflection of illegal immigrants voting.

Clinton’s loss has been blamed on anything and everything. One of the charges leveled against her is that her campaign was too detached and poorly orchestrated, allowing Trump to sweep working-class states. A view that Obama actually appears to share.

“There’s an emotional connection, and part of what we have to do to rebuild is to be there, and that means organizing, that means caring about state parties, it means caring about local races, state boards or school boards and city councils and state legislative races and not thinking that somehow, just a great set of progressive policies that we present to the New York Times editorial board will win the day.”

Obama also sticks to his guns on Hope and Change, claiming that despite the appearance of backsliding, America was permanently altered along the lines of his vision of a tolerant liberalism. “Obviously in the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that, somehow, it really was a fantasy. What I would argue is, is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism. And the problem is, it doesn’t always manifest itself in politics, right?”