Obama tells anxious Democratic donors to 'chill out about the candidates' and avoid putting them through 'purity tests' at fundraiser

Barack ObamaBarack Obama.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Former President Barack Obama had a message for wealthy Democratic donors on Thursday evening growing anxious about the current slate of primary candidates and the lack of a clear frontrunner in the race.
  • "Everybody needs to chill out about the candidates but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process," Obama said, according to a report in The Washington Post.
  • The former president also said that Democrats should avoid putting candidates through "purity tests," according to The New York Times.
  • They're the latest attention-grabbing comments from Obama, who has been moving off the sidelines in the Democratic primary.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former President Barack Obama had a message for wealthy Democratic donors on Thursday evening growing anxious about the current slate of primary candidates and the lack of a clear frontrunner in the race.

"Everybody needs to chill out about the candidates but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process," Obama said at a California fundraiser, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The former president also said that Democrats should avoid putting candidates through "purity tests," according to The New York Times.

"I'm always suspicious of purity tests during elections," Obama said. "Because you know what? The country's complicated."

He also urged the party to focus on defeating President Donald Trump in next year's election and not get sucked into ideological disputes that could threaten their chances of reclaiming the White House.

"The field will narrow, and there's going to be one person, and if that is not your perfect candidate and there are certain aspects of what they say that you don't agree with and you don't find them completely inspiring the way you'd like, I don't care," Obama said. "Because the choice is so stark and the stakes are so high that you cannot afford to be ambivalent in this race."

They're the latest attention-grabbing comments from Obama, who has been moving off the sidelines in the Democratic primary to soothe the nerves of party activists and donors.

Last week, Obama indirectly rebuked Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both leading progressive candidates, saying that "the average American doesn't think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it."

Obama, however, has not endorsed a candidate, and only offered guidance to those seeking his counsel, The Times reported.
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