HONOLULU (AP) — In an alternate universe in which President Barack Obama ran for a third term against Donald Trump, who would have won?
No surprise: The president and the president-elect disagree.
A fresh dispute erupted Monday between Obama and his successor, spurred by Obama’s hypothetical musings that had he run again, he would have been victorious. Interviewed for a podcast, Obama suggested he still holds enough sway over the coalition of voters that elected him twice to get them to vote for him once again.
“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” Obama told his former White House adviser, David Axelrod, in a podcast released Monday.
Trump, naturally, disagreed. He took to his preferred medium — Twitter — to offer his reaction.
“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY!” Trump wrote.
He suggested Obama’s record would have prevented him from securing a victory, citing jobs that have left the U.S., troubles with Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State group as examples.
The White House declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.
In the podcast, Obama didn’t address whether he would have been able to surmount the obstacle that the Electoral College posed for Hillary Clinton. The Democrat failed to secure a majority of electoral votes despite winning the popular vote by millions.
Yet Obama said he’s spoken to people across the U.S. who have told him the direction he pursued “is the right one,” a sentiment he said extends even to some people “who disagreed with me.” He suggested Democrats’ failure in the election may have stemmed from the prevailing assumption that Clinton’s victory was all but assured.
“If you think you’re winning, then you have a tendency — just like in sports — maybe to play it safer,” Obama said.