Obama Praises Sanders’s Small-Dollar Fundraising Operation
President Barack Obama praised Bernie Sanders small-dollar fundraising operation on Thursday.
“You’ve got to give Bernie Sanders, for example, credit — building off some of the work I did; I, in turn, built off the work that Howard Dean did — for smaller donations, grassroots donors, to build up small contributions to allow candidates to be competitive,” Obama said.
The Hill reports:
It’s uncommon for Obama to single out Sanders for praise. He hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, but it’s widely believed he favors his former secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
In an interview published earlier Thursday, Obama rebuked Sanders’s plan to break up major Wall Street banks.
But he has praised the Vermont senator for firing up the liberal base.
Sanders has broken fundraising records mostly by racking up low-dollar donations. He raked in $44 million alone in March, and overall, his campaign has received 6.5 million contributions from 2 million donors.
Sanders is also very popular with young voters, who happened to fill the seats in the Brady Press Briefing Room.
Obama reiterated his belief that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which opened the door to high-dollar, anonymous donations to super-PACs, has helped drive cynicism about the political process.
“Most of this money is spent on negative ads,” he said. “So you’re constantly hearing about how horrible everybody is, that’ll make you feel pretty bad about the political process.”
Obama said it’s not enough for candidates like Sanders to voluntarily rely on small-dollar donations.
“We don’t want to leave that to chance,” he said. “I am a strong believer in finding ways in which we can make the financing of campaigns more democratic.”
The president cited gerrymandering as a reason voters have grown frustrated with elections, but he also said negative media coverage has also played a role.
“It is very hard to get good stories placed,” Obama said.
When the government works, he said, “we just take that for granted. And if out of those 2 million employees, one person screws up somewhere, which every day you can count on somebody out of 2 million people doing something they shouldn’t be doing, that’s what’s going to get reported on.”
The president told the college journalists they have a “role to play in reducing cynicism.”
“[Tough coverage] helps keep government on its toes and accountable,” Obama said.
“But one of the things have to think about how is do we tell a story about the things we do together that actually work so that people don’t feel so cynical overall.”
Photo credit: White House.