An Obama administration staffer ripped the current Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee for his criticisms of Barack Obama. DNC co-chair Keith Ellison said this week that Obama should receive some of the blame for losses their party suffered under his leadership.
“Look I’m a great fan of President Obama,” said Ellison at an event at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday. ”I totally voted for many of the things he supported — Dodd Frank, Affordable Care Act, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — I could keep going,” Ellison said at an event Wednesday at the University of Minnesota.
“Wonderful achievements. But Barack Obama could have been a better party leader, and I think the fact that he wasn’t put his legacy in jeopardy,” Ellison said.
“Your legacy is not a building that he’s going to construct in Chicago housing his presidential papers,” Ellison continued. “His legacy is the work he’s done, which I believe is tremendous. But given we lost a lot of statehouse seats, governorships, secretary of states, his true legacy is in danger, and I think he can’t say that he wasn’t part of those losses. Who else, right?”
The Obama administration’s spokesperson for the Department of State, Marie Harf, who also worked on Obama’s campaign, said Ellison’s remarks were “a stupid thing to say and I don’t think it’s true.”
“Barack Obama’s approval numbers have remained very high. They only got higher throughout the course of this campaign,” Harf told “Fox and Friends” Saturday. “And as a Democrat I want my party to look at all the reasons we lost in 2016. There are a lot of them, starting with a bad campaign strategy, a candidate with a lot of baggage, a lot of external factors, misreading the country’s mood, especially in key states,” Harf said. “Blaming a popular former president . . . It’s a stupid thing to say and I don’t think it’s true.”
When Obama took office, Democrats held big majorities in the House and Senate that were lost over eight years. In addition, Democrats had huge losses all over the country in state governments and legislatures, allowing Republicans to redefine congressional district lines.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who appeared on “Morning Joe” separately, also said Ellison’s comments were unhelpful, even though he did not exactly disagree with the criticisms leveled at Obama.
Ellison ran hard for the DNC chairmanship but lost to Obama loyalist Tom Perez, who served as Obama’s Labor Secretary.
Despite Ellison's’ misgivings, Obama remains at the head of their party. Alyssa Mastromonaco, who served as Obama’s White House deputy chief of staff for operations told CNN on Friday that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is not the leader. When CNN host Erin Burnett asked, Mastromonaco said, "I think if you ask Bernie, he would say 'no.' I think he even said he wasn't a Democrat the other day." She added, "I think Barack Obama is probably still the leader of the Democratic Party, even though he is...on hiatus right now." Obama will appear in Chicago on Monday where he will give a highly anticipated speech.