After Donald Trump was elected as then-President Barack Obama’s successor, Obama processed the news with short dashes of anger and self reflection, according to a New York Times review of longtime Obama adviser Benjamin Rhodes’ new book.
“What if we were wrong,” Obama reportedly asked aides after reading a column about the gap between liberals and middle America conservatives. “Maybe we pushed too far. … Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
In the days following the 2016 election, Obama attempted to cheer up his crestfallen staff. He sent Rhodes a note saying “There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth,” the former deputy national security adviser recalls. But Obama’s tone with staff fluctuated between optimism and irritability, Rhodes wrote.
At one point Obama told staff that “maybe” Trump is “what people want.”
“I’ve got the economy set up well for him,” Rhodes remembers Obama saying. “No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.”
During Trump’s first visit to the White House after the election, Rhodes said the President-elect was hellbent on maneuvering the conversation back to himself and his popularity at campaign rallies. He reportedly admitted that he knew that he and Obama could draw a big crowd, but that Hillary Clinton could not, per the Times.
Read the Times’ full report here.