WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said U.S. voters want “that new car smell” from candidates in the 2016 election and will “want to drive something off the lot that doesn’t have as much mileage as me.”
He didn’t say which of the several possible Democratic candidates to succeed him as president might best fit that description. He did stress that Hillary Rodham Clinton, his former political rival and secretary of state, would be a strong successor.
“If she decides to run, I think she will be a formidable candidate and I think she’d be a great president,” Obama, 53, said in a recorded interview on ABC’s “This Week” program that aired Sunday.
Clinton, 67, a former U.S. senator from New York, is a runaway favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in early preference polls of party voters. She’s expected to announce her political plans early next year.
Obama said that he and Clinton talk regularly and that she and “a number of other” potential Democratic candidates he didn’t name would be “terrific presidents.”
Former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, 68, a Virginia Democrat, announced last week that he’s exploring a presidential campaign.
The president said that he expected Clinton to put some distance between herself and him on policy if she sought the White House. As the top U.S. diplomat, Clinton counseled Obama to arm Syrian rebels; Obama declined.
“She’s not going to agree with me on everything,” Obama said. “And, you know, one of the benefits of running for president is you can stake out your own positions.”