Democrats are still furious at the possibility of a foreign leader swaying the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But they’re less concerned when they’re the ones doing the swaying.
President Barack Obama stepped back into international politics on Thursday, during a controversial phone call with liberal French presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron—discussing how the teams can work together to ensure a liberal victory.
French voters go to the polls on Saturday for the first round of their presidential election. The two candidates with the most votes face off in a second round runoff election in May.
While polling shows a close race between four candidates, the liberal establishment favorite, Macron, is likely to make the runoff. But his most likely opponent is a conservative often described as a female Donald Trump—Marine Le Pen, of the Front National party.
Another western democracy electing an anti-establishment nationalist would be a disaster for the globalist left. Which is, presumably, why Obama decided to abruptly end his lengthy post-presidency vacation and return to politics.
While Obama’s team tried to downplay the call, Macron was happy to brag about his support from the former U.S. President—releasing a video of his side of the call, and posting to Twitter, “Let’s keep defending our progressive values. Thank you for this discussion @BarackObama.”
In the video, Obama seemed to coach Macron on how best to win the election.
“The main message I have is to wish you all the best in the coming days, and make sure, as you said, you work hard all the way through—because you never know, it might be that last day of campaigning that makes all the difference,” advised Obama.
Macron excitedly replied, “I will do my best, believe me. So I will fight to the last minute, and we will keep in touch, and our teams will realize and organize a new contact and see how to work together if I’m getting to the run-off.”
If Obama’s history of European election involvement is any guide, Le Pen can breathe easy. Last summer, Obama resorted to overblown scare tactics in an effort to convince British voters to stay in the European Union—and he was resoundingly defeated at the ballot box.