Former president Barack Obama will formally reenter the political fray this week less than six months after leaving office, headlining a fundraiser for a group that could prove critical to the Democratic Party’s rebuilding efforts.
Obama’s appearance Thursday before a few dozen people at a closed-door event in the District on behalf of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) highlights the balance he is trying to strike as his party seeks to regain its footing at both the state and national levels. Obama does not want to cast “a long shadow,” in the words of Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, but he remains a central figure for a party that has yet to settle on a single strategy to combat President Trump.
Perez said in an interview Sunday that while some Democrats have urged Obama recently, “You’ve got to get out front on issue X or issue Y,” the former president wants instead to “build the bench” for the party. Democrats suffered a greater loss of power during Obama’s tenure than under any other two-term president since World War II.
“Because tomorrow’s president is today’s state senator. And he knows that very personally,” said Perez, referring to Obama’s experience as a state senator in Illinois. “When you lose 900 state legislative seats, those are people who could have been the next governors and senators and Cabinet positions, and that is something that he’s very committed to.”
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