Former Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes said it was “horrifying” for him to come to the realization that President Donald Trump ran on a similar message in 2016 as former President Barack Obama did in the 2008 campaign – a message of change.
“The morning after the election in 2016, I thought to myself the message that Trump used to win that election, if you took out what I would think is some of the racism and misogyny that was in this campaign, it was essentially change,” Rhodes said Wednesday in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”
“It was: she’s a part of a corrupt establishment and she won’t bring change and I will,” Rhodes said, referring to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“And it was kind of horrifying to realize that the same type of message that we’d used in 2008 had been repurposed to essentially in 2016, albeit in a very different way,” said Rhodes, who had worked on Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign before going on to be Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
Rhodes also addressed the criticism that Obama had done little party-building as president and chose to endorse a candidate that embodied the status quo.
“Being disciplined in party-building was not at the top of the list and that ended up being very important to protecting our legacy,” Rhodes said. “You do look back on that and think, ‘What could we have done?’”
Rhodes is the author of a new memoir reflecting on his years in the Obama White House, “The World as It Is.”