Politics

Ex-Aide Says Obama Is Still Leader Of Democratic Party

| by Kathryn Schroeder

An ex-White House staffer believes former President Barack Obama remains in command of the Democratic Party.

"I think Barack Obama is probably still the leader of the Democratic Party," Alyssa Mastromonaco, who was Obama's deputy chief of staff for operations, told CNN in an interview, according to The Hill.

When asked about other Democrats, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, she did not call them leaders of the Democratic Party.

"Bernie ... I think if you ask Bernie he would say no," Mastromonaco said. "He even said he wasn't a Democrat the other day."

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On April 18, Sanders did say that he does not consider himself a Democrat.

"I'm an independent," he said when asked if he now identifies as a Democrat, according to The Hill.

"If the Democratic Party is going to succeed -- and I want to see it succeed -- it's gonna have to open its door to independents," Sanders continued. "There are probably more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It's got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That's what we need."

Tom Perez, Obama's former secretary of labor, is the current chairman of the Democratic Party, according to its website.

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Mastromonaco said that Perez is the leader only because Obama is on a "sort of ... hiatus," according to The Hill.

She added that Perez will be part of helping resolve the "Democrats' identity crisis."

Aside from Perez, two of the official leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress are Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.

Obama has not made a public appearance since leaving office in January. He is scheduled to have his first on April 24 in Chicago, Illinois, when he will participate in a town hall event at the University of Chicago. The event is focused on community organizing and civic engagement, Obama's office told the Washington Post.

According to the statement from Obama's office, the former president hopes to "encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world."

The town hall will take place right before Trump's 100th day in office, though aides at Obama's office said that Obama's attendance is not intended as a way to raise his profile as a leader of the Democrats' opposition to President Donald Trump.

In May, Obama will go to Boston, Massachusetts, to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, and visit Berlin, Germany, to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sources: The Hill (2), Washington Post, Democratic National Committee / Photo credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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