Martin Pengelly, The Guardian, January 27, 2020
Barack Obama called Donald Trump a “fascist” during the 2016 election, according to Virginia senator Tim Kaine.
The incendiary comment is included in Hillary, a forthcoming Hulu documentary which has already stoked controversy.
Remarks Hillary Clinton made about Bernie Sanders, her challenger for the Democratic nomination four years ago, went viral last week.
This weekend, NBC News, the Atlantic and other outlets reported that the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, shows Kaine, Clinton’s pick for vice-president, in conversation with his running mate at an unspecified time during the 2016 campaign.
“President Obama called me last night,” he says, “and said: ‘Tim, remember, this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House.’”
Clinton says “I echo that sentiment” and adds: “But that’s really – the weight of our responsibility is so huge.”
Obama has been critical of Trump’s policies and character but never in such direct terms – warning for example of the danger of “homegrown demagogues” in a speech at the Democratic convention in July 2016.
The 44th president will be a key campaign presence for whichever Democrat wins the nomination to face Trump at the polls in November.
Obama and Kaine did not immediately comment on the reported “fascist” remark. Nor did Trump. But at Sundance on Saturday, Clinton discussed it with Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg.
“If you look at the definition [of fascist], which I’ve had the occasion to read several times,” she said, “I think we can agree on several things.
“[Trump] has authoritarian tendencies and he admires authoritarian leaders, [Vladimir] Putin being his favorite.
“He uses a form of really virulent nationalism. He identifies targets: immigrants, blacks, browns, gays, women, whoever the target of the day or week is …
“I think you see a lot of the characteristics of what we think of [as] nationalistic, fascistic kinds of tendencies and behaviors.”
Clinton also said Obama never called Trump a fascist in conversation with her.
But she said Obama “observed … this populism untethered to facts, evidence, or truth; this total rejection of so much of the progress that America has made, in order to incite a cultural reaction that would play into the fear and the anxiety and the insecurity of people – predominantly in small-town and rural areas – who felt like they were losing something.
“And [Trump] gave them a voice for what they were losing and who was responsible.”
The Hulu documentary will be available from 6 March.