Barack Obama just explained the entire conflict between Bernie and Hillary

Sanders has "the luxury of being a longshot," whereas Clinton has the burden of being the front-runner

By Scott Eric Kaufman
Published January 25, 2016 1:26PM (EST)
  (AP/Andrew Harnik)
(AP/Andrew Harnik)

In a substantial interview with Glenn Thrush, President Barack Obama discussed the process of being elected to the White House, and how it differs depending on which side of the aisle you occupy.

In particular, he expressed his disappointment with the rhetoric coming out of the Republican primaries, which he sees as being symptomatic of something more than the typical election-year divisiveness.

"When I ran against John McCain, John McCain and I had real differences, sharp differences, but John McCain didn't deny climate science," he said.

"John McCain didn't call for banning Muslims from the United States. You know, John McCain was a conservative, but he was well within, you know, the mainstream of not just the Republican Party but within our political dialogue."

"That’s where, ultimately, any voter is going to have to pay attention is the degree to which the Republican rhetoric and Republican vision has moved not just to the right but has moved to a place that is unrecognizable," the president added.

"My hope -- not just for me or the Democratic Party but for the Republican Party and for America -- is that this is an expression of frustration, anger that folks like Trump and, to some degree, Cruz are exploiting."

Thrush asked whether the president has watched the Republican debates, to which Obama replied that he didn't even watch his own, as "they're performance are as opposed to talking about stuff."

As for the Democrats, the president isn't buying the notion that Bernie Sanders is the 2016 equivalent of Barack Obama, though he admitted that like himself, "Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete longshot and just letting loose."

"I think Hillary came in with the -- both privilege and burden of being perceived as the front-runner. And, as a consequence, you know, where they stood at the beginning probably helps to explain why the language sometimes is different."

Listen to the entire 40 minute interview below.

Bernie Sanders: Clinton Campaign Is Getting 'A Little Nervous'

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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