Barack Obama has defended his legacy as President of the United States, saying he thinks America has become more tolerant and diverse during his time in office and he could have defeated Donald Trump had he been able to run for a third term.
He also suggested that the Democratic candidate who did run, Hillary Clinton, played it too safe when it looked like she was winning.
The President was speaking to his former chief strategist and senior adviser David Axelrod, now a political commentator for CNN, for his podcast The Axe Files.
They spoke on a wide variety of topics, including what life will look like beyond the White House, whether he will be staying vocal about politics, and how his wife Michelle deserves a holiday.
Mr Obama dismissed the idea that the recent election result was a repudiation of his “Yes, We Can” vision of hope for America, given that Mr Trump is his political opposite in many ways:
“Obviously in the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that somehow it really was a fantasy,” he said.
“What I would argue is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one America that is tolerant and diverse and open.
I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilised a majority of the American people to rally behind it.”
He said Ms Clinton, who served as his secretary of state, “performed wonderfully” during the election campaign under tough circumstances:
“I think there was a double standard with her. For whatever reason, there’s been a longstanding difficulty in her relationship with the press that meant her flaws were wildly amplified,” he said.
But Mr Obama said that she did not spend enough time talking about how the economy was improving and what her own progressive agenda looked like.
I think she looked and said, well, given my opponent and the things he’s saying and what he’s doing, we should focus on that.”
Mr Trump has already responded on Twitter to the idea that Mr Obama could have defeated him.
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
With just a few weeks left as President, Mr Obama is now looking towards life outside the White House:
“My intentions on January 21st is to sleep, take my wife on a nice vacation — and she has said it better be nice, because she’s earned it,” he said.
He said you would not be seeing him getting involved in the day-to-day political discussion after that date.
Mr Obama on success:
“To the extent that I had been successful, it wasn’t about me. It was about certain forces out there and me hitching my wagon to a broader spirit.”
On white working class people:
“In a lot of these communities, what they’re hearing is Obama wants to take away my guns, Obamacare’s about transgender bathrooms and not my job, Obama is disrespecting my culture.”
On losing a congressional election in 2000:
“Don’t underestimate the public humiliation of losing in politics. It’s unlike what most people experience as adults, this sense of rejection.”
On Michelle Obama:
“I can’t underestimate the degree to which having a life partner who is so grounded and so strong and steady and fundamentally honest helped.”
On the babies of the White House:
“So far, nobody’s named their kid Barack. I’ve been a little upset about that.”