Former President Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said Tuesday she doesn’t mull over the reasons why many Obama supporters voted for President Trump in 2016 because the reality is “too painful.”
“They were looking for change,” Ms. Jarrett said on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. “I really can’t spend a lot of time looking backward, it’s too painful for me.”
About 7 million voters who supported Mr. Obama in 2012 abandoned Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and instead voted for Mr. Trump.
Ms. Jarrett, who was with Mr. Obama in the White House for eight years, said it’s “troubling” to her that 43 percent of registered voters didn’t go to the polls last year. She said Mr. Obama’s new foundation is devoted partly to “getting them engaged and getting them participating in our democracy.”
She said keeping up with the news during the Trump administration “is not good for my health.” The longtime Obama confidante also said Mr. Obama is “concerned” about Mr. Trump’s efforts to roll back much of the Democrat’s legacy.
“Of course he’s concerned,” she said. “A lot of the very important steps that he took to level the playing field, ensure that we have a culture of inclusion where every child has a fair shot, many of those provisions and steps are being rolled back.”
She also brought up the issue of Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty for young illegal immigrants, a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Mr. Trump has said the program in its current form must end, although he has expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on a solution.
“Obviously, those young people who came to our country through no fault of their own who are truly in spirit American citizens, they should be protected,” Ms. Jarrett said.
Asked if she believes Mr. Trump’s policies are a racially motivated response to the nation’s first black president, Ms. Jarrett said she doesn’t think so.
“I think a lot of it is about protecting the status quo, the entrenched special interests in Washington,” she said. “The fact that Congress hasn’t moved forward to keep guns out of the wrong hands doesn’t have anything to do with there being a black president, it has to do with the stranglehold that the NRA has over Washington. I don’t read race into everything. I think a lot of it is people looking out for their short-term political interests.”
She also said racial divisions in the U.S. are being exposed more under Mr. Trump.
“I think in a sense maybe a lot of what had been under the surface, we’re seeing [in] the light of day more apparently today than before,” Ms. Jarrett said.
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