How Obama has broken the mold in 2016

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about President Obama's role as attack dog in Hillary Clinton's run for president.

By Linda Feldmann
Staff Writer

Washington — The 2016 presidential campaign has broken the mold in so many ways. Start with the first woman major-party nominee in Hillary Clinton and practically everything about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Now, add President Obama’s role as an attack dog.

At the Democratic National Convention last week, Mr. Obama launched a withering attack on the Republican nominee, accusing Trump of selling the American people short, cozying up to autocrats, and offering no solutions. In his choicest dig – a warning about “homegrown demagogues” – Obama alluded to the billionaire-turned-politician, but didn’t mention Trump by name. . .

Either way, scholars say, Obama’s thorough trashing of the opposing party’s presidential nominee is unique for the modern era, compared with how other recent presidents have handled the race for their succession.

“It is unprecedented certainly in post-World War II American history,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. . . 

Still, there are reasons for Obama to dial back the volume, which he did on Thursday in his press conference at the Pentagon. Clinton now leads in the polls – and it behooves her to fly solo for a while, says Mr. Jillson.

“If you think about the last many months, Hillary Clinton has wrapped herself in the Obama presidency and legacy, and benefited by it,” says Jillson. “Now she’s well-positioned to win this on her own.”

Read the full story.