Former President Barack Obama continued facing backlash from leftists in the Democratic Party days after warning a room of wealthy liberal donors Friday that the average American voter doesn’t want to “completely tear down the system” to make it work for them.
While he didn’t name any current Democratic presidential candidate, Obama raised concern about some liberal ideas being promoted during the ongoing primary race by “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party.” He pointed to issues such as health care and immigration which aren’t lined up with public opinion, according to The New York Times.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Obama warned the liberal donors. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
Obama made the comments in a bid to allay fears among donors about the combative primary period with a still crowded field of candidates.
“For those who get stressed about robust primaries, I just have to remind you I had a very robust primary,” he said. “I’m confident that at the end of the process we will have a candidate that has been tested.”
Responding to Obama’s criticism on being too liberal, several of the Democratic presidential candidates, like Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, urged caution.
“What we’re doing right now, creating these dynamics within the Democratic Party, we’ve got to be careful,” he told reporters in Long Beach, California, according to the Times. “Because whoever is the nominee, we have one shot to make Donald Trump a one-term president. And so I’m not interested in delineating left or right or criticizing other folks.”
He added: “Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines. I’m tired in this election of hearing some people say, ‘Well if this person gets elected, I can’t support them,’ and then other people say, ‘If this person gets elected, I can’t support them.’ Are you kidding me?”
When asked by Jorge Ramos during a televised forum sponsored by Univision if Obama was right in saying that “the average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “Well, it depends on what you mean by tear down the system.”
“The agenda that we have is an agenda supported by the vast majority of working people,” he said. “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice. When I talk about health care being a human right and ending the embarrassment of America being the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for every man, woman and child, that’s not tearing down the system. That’s doing what we should have done 30 years ago.”
Obama’s comments have since also sparked a TooFarleft hashtag on Twitter, voicing backlash from far-left liberals in the party, such as Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“If being #TooFarLeft means believing: healthcare is a human right; future generations should live on a healthy planet; all student debt should be cancelled; the minimum wage should be $15; lives depend on gun reform; families don’t belong in cages, count me in!” she tweeted.
“I'm not sure what #TooFarLeft is. Making sure individuals don't go broke from health care costs? Making sure that every kid has a shot at a good education? Making sure that banks don't throw away our money, or that oil companies don't wipe us off the face of the Earth?” asked stand-up comedian and actress Paula Poundstone on Twitter.
Political operative Peter Daou, who took credit for launching the hashtag, said: "I launched the #TooFarLeft tag because I've had it with Republicans, media elites, and corporate Dems enabling fascists while denigrating those who seek economic and social justice as 'too far left.' I'd like to ONCE hear them complain America is too far right."