President Barack Obama’s legacy could be damaged if he’s not succeeded by a fellow Democrat, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said today.
“It’s very important because I know what we did in the first 100 days of our administration, and it was go through a lot of what President Bush did and sign executive orders doing the opposite,” Pfeiffer told reporters and editors today at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast in Washington.
That dynamic will shape Obama’s dealings with the Republican-led Congress and his party’s presidential nominee in the final two years of his presidency. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s first-term secretary of state and 2008 presidential primary rival, is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016, though she hasn’t said whether she’ll run.
“The best way to be succeeded by a Democrat is to be the best president we can be for the next two years and get as much done,” Pfeiffer said. “Some of that will be with Congress; some of it will be on our own. So that’s how we’re thinking about it.”
Trying to set up a Democratic successor isn’t “in tension” with efforts to work with congressional Republicans, he said. The 2016 presidential election may provide an incentive for gridlock and force Republicans to show they can govern, he said.
“I’d like to believe that the country would come before Party. I didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” Pfeiffer said.
“A big anvil around the neck of Mitt Romney was the Republican Party brand,” he said of the party’s 2012 nominee for president. “Any Republican nominee is going to carry that. And it would be in their interest to improve that brand.”
Tension between Obama and Clinton rose when she criticized his approach to foreign policy during her book tour this summer. Tempers flared and quickly settled back. Whether it’s Clinton or someone else, Obama will need the Democratic nominee, Pfeiffer said.
“If you want to cement a lot of the very core elements of your legacy it’s much easier to do, obviously, with someone who supports your agenda,” he said.
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