Former President Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said she’s encouraging former first lady Michelle Obama “to be a force for good” outside the White House, but doesn’t see her vying for any political office.
Jarrett told MSNBC in an interview aired this morning that she “had adjusted ahead of time to what it would be like” if Donald Trump won the election “and that made it a little smoother” to transition.
“It was painful,” she admitted of election night. “It was, I think, gut-wrenching, is how I described it. So, but that’s our democracy. And then you have to just move on and figure out how you want to continue to do what you care most about.”
“And for me, it’s issues like gender equality and criminal justice reform and helping advocate for civil rights and getting young people interested in picking up that baton. So, there’s still a lot of important work left to do.”
Jarrett added that “you can’t just throw up your hands and give up on our democracy.”
One of Obama’s “biggest disappointments” in office, she said, “was the toxic nature in Washington and how I think the Republicans decided very early on, from day one, that they were going to put their short-term political interests ahead of what was good for our country.”
“I just didn’t fully appreciate coming in just how the entrenched special interests would hold on with a stranglehold to that status quo and that change, it was terrifying to them,” she added. “And it meant giving up power and it meant putting it back in the hands of the American people. And there was a lot of resistance to that.”
Asked if she was considering running for the Senate, Jarrett insisted she’s more interested in helping “some young people run for office.”
On encouraging Michelle Obama to run: “I don’t think that that would be fruitful.”
“I will encourage her to be a force for good. She doesn’t need much encouragement for that. Obviously, she was an extraordinary first lady. But I don’t think she really wants to run for office. I think she appreciates that she has this extraordinary platform, as does her husband. They’re young. They’re very popular. The president left office with very high approval ratings, as did she. And so how do you take that and galvanize the American people, citizens, to actually work to solve some of the big challenges that will lie ahead?”
Jarrett admitted later in the interview that she hadn’t predicted Hillary Clinton’s loss.
“I think, look, it’s a big, complicated democracy. One of the strengths of our country is its diversity, its rich diversity. I actually didn’t see the election coming out the way it did. I wouldn’t have predicted it. But the question is, like where do you go from here?” she said. “And what do we do to just rebuild and focus on creating a big and inclusive tent where we’re focusing on making sure that, you know, every child gets that fair shot, that every woman gets to compete on a level playing field, that we are true to the core values of our country and we’re making sure that we honor those values.”
She said Obama, through civic engagement programs at The Obama Center, is “looking forward to going back” to his roots as a community organizer.