Barack Obama says the plethora of candidates vying to succeed him as US president will be forced to exit “silly season” and be “more serious” as the 2016 general election nears.
During an interview broadcast by NBC television Tuesday, Obama said that — a year from election day — media-savvy candidates were still playing outsized roles.
“Political season’s always a little bit of the silly season — particularly during primaries,” he said.
“I think by the time each party chooses its candidates, they are forced maybe to be a little more serious and speak to the broad public as opposed to just a narrow part of their base.”
Zeroing in on the fractious Republican race — currently dominated by political outsiders Ben Carson and bombastic real estate mogul Donald Trump, Obama said the pack was not being winnowed down.
“You have, I think, the most disgruntled or suspicious-of-Washington portion of the electorate that is driving the process,” he said.
“What we’re seeing on that side at least is a lot of folks who are good at social media are getting attention.
“But there hasn’t been… a winnowing down of the process where people are forced to really talk about the issues in a more serious way,” Obama added.
“I suspect that will change over time. But right now at least — you don’t get a sense that anybody is presenting a new set of ideas around the very real challenges that we face.”
Obama — now in the final stretch of his presidency and with his legacy on the line — has been increasingly vocal about the state of the 2016 field.
“They’re not spending enough time really trying to explain to the American people what exactly are you trying to do,” he said.
Obama urged voters to pay attention to the candidates’ grasp of complexity, rather than just “sloganeering” and emotional “stirring.”
“I think what’s most important is to pay attention to what the candidates are saying — not in simple bumper sticker form but that they have a sense that these issues are complicated, that they’re hard, that they’re not silver bullets,” the president added.