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Obama returns to help Democrats starting in the fall

081117 - Obama political reemergence - Shepherd pic
In the coming weeks, aides close to the former President Barack Obama will begin mapping out a strategy for him to begin taking a more active role in Democratic party politics, especially fundraising. (Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg)

Former President Barack Obama is expected to "re-emerge" into the national political scene later this fall in order to help Democrats rebuild their party after losing the White House last year.

In the next few weeks, aides close to the former president will begin mapping out a strategy for him to begin taking a more active role in Democratic party politics, especially fundraising.

The strategy comes with some political risk, however. If the former president engages too heavily in current political matters and gains some of the spotlight, it could allow President Trump to build energy and momentum with his base by turning his attacks on Obama.

"He'll tread lightly because [Obama] is not going to be the face of the party when it actually counts in 2020 and 2024," Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, told The Hill.

"So the extent to which he would emerge and speak to a wide range of issues would preclude the emergence of someone else," Jillson added. "They must find a standard-bearer for future elections, and I think he can at least in the short term suck up all the available oxygen."

Obama has reportedly been holding one-on-one meetings with top Democratic elected officials, and numerous phone calls with Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez.

Obama's clout and expertise might be most welcome in fundraising where recently the GOP has been handily beating Democrats when comparing the national committees. In June, the GOP national committee hauled in $13.5 million compared to the Democrats' $5.5 million.

As the Washington Examiner's Byron York wrote:

A look inside the numbers is even worse for the DNC. Looking at collections from small donors — that is, those who contributed less than $200 — the RNC raised $10.5 million in the months of May and June. The DNC raised $5.3 million from small donors in the same time period.
The RNC's money total is a record — more than was raised in any previous non-presidential election year. That is true for June, and for all of 2017 as well. The $75.4 million raised this year compares to $55.4 million for the same period in 2015; to $51.2 for the same period in 2014; to $41.1 million for the same period in 2013, and so on going back.
"It's definitely a reflection of support for President Trump," said RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney. "Our small-dollar donors are giving at a record pace because they believe the RNC is supporting President Trump, and they like that."

Other parts of the Democrats' strategy include using the former president's popularity to drive out attendance at rallies for local Democrat candidates. For example, Obama is already known to have committed to helping Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam.