Obama Spokesman: 'Far Too Early...to Discern Exactly What Message Voters Were Trying to Send'

Susan Jones | November 10, 2016 | 6:25am EST
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"I think it is far too early, at least for me, to discern exactly what message the voters were trying to send last night," Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - On the day after Americans chose Donald Trump over a woman who promised to defend and "build on" Barack Obama's policies, a White House spokesman said he doesn't know what message the voters were trying to send.

"[T]he results of the election are not even 12 hours old, and I think it is far too early, at least for me, to discern exactly what message the voters were trying to send last night," Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.

"There certainly is a lot of speculation about what that may have been. Most of that speculation emanates from people who predicted a very different result last night. So that's the essence of punditry -- nothing wrong with that, but it is why I think it's going to require more than 12 hours of consideration and investigation to get to the bottom of what was actually motivating so many people who cast votes at the polls yesterday."

While campaigning for Hillary Clinton, President Obama made it clear that although he was not running for re-election, his policies were at stake.

As recently as three days ago, in Kissimmee, Florida, Obama told a campaign rally, "I may not be on the ballot this time. But everything we've done's been on the ballot."

In September, Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation he would consider it “a personal insult, an insult to my legacy” if black voters failed to turn out in large numbers for Hillary Clinton. “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot,” he said.

Hillary Clinton did not campaign as someone who would serve President Obama's "third term," but she did say she would "build on the successes of President Obama" and also "go beyond."

At the White House on Wednesday, a reporter asked if Obama thinks the election results were partly a rejection of him and his policies, since he and Clinton were so "closely bound together" during the campaign.

"I don't know that anybody has the direct answer to that question now," Earnest replied. He said the fact that Clinton won the popular vote "does underscore the depth of support and enthusiasm for her message and for her campaign."

"The other thing that happens to be true is there are a lot of people, again the math requires this, who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, who voted for his reelection in 2012, and voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And I think it's -- I don't have an explanation for that, to put it bluntly.

"But I think certainly all of your networks and all of you are going to spend some time pondering that question; spending some time looking at the returns; looking at the exit polls; and maybe even spending some time in some of those communities across the country where Mr. Trump -- President-elect Trump -- enjoyed such strong support -- support that exceeded the expectations of everybody, apparently even exceeded the expectations of the Trump campaign."

Earnest noted that President Obama will remain in office until January 20, and he will continue to pursue the policies he's laid out until then. "And we're gonna be committed to doing everything we can to ensure the success of those policies between now and January 20th."

He pointed to the Affordable Care Act: "This administration is gonna continue to make a strong case that people should go to healthcare.gov, consider the options that are available to them and sign up for health care. And the vast majority of people who do will be able to purchase health insurance for $75 a month or less. That is a -- that is a policy priority that benefits the American people enormously.

Earnest said when Trump enters office, he "will have his own opportunity to set the course of health care policy in this country in a way that he sees fit. It's gonna require some cooperation with Congress, and that won't be easy. But there's a lot at stake."

Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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