Barack Obama explains ‘very particular point’ on defund the police on ‘Daily Show’

Some contend he was trying to 'make white people comfortable.' Obama says that wasn't the case.

Former President Barack Obama may have stopped by The Daily Show Tuesday to plug his latest book, A Promised Land, but he clarified the issues he has with the phrase “defund the police.”

“I have consistently believed that their courage, activism, media-savvy, strategic resolve far exceeds anything I could have done at their age, and I think has shifted the conversation in ways that I would not have even imagined a couple of years ago,” Obama told Daily Show host Trevor Noah of the Black Lives Matter contingent he’s seen leading the cause.

“So, throughout this slew of compliments, I then said, ‘Well, what do you think about the particular slogan ‘defund the police’? And I said, ‘Well, that particular slogan, I think the concern is there may be potential allies out there that you lose. And the issue always is, how do you get enough people to support your cause that you can actually institutionalize it and translate it into laws.’”

Obama maintained that he thought highly of Black Lives Matter activists.

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“The reason it caught attention, I suspect, is there are some in the Democratic Party who suggested the reason we didn’t do better in the congressional elections this time around was because of this phrase,” he said. “And I think that people assumed that somehow I was making an argument that that’s why we didn’t get a bigger Democratic majority. That actually was not the point I was making.”

The still-popular former commander-in-chief argued that while some critics of his initial remarks have contended that he was trying to “make white people comfortable,” Obama says that wasn’t the case.

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“The issue to me is not making them comfortable; it is, can we be precise with our language enough that people who might be persuaded around that particular issue to make a particular change that gets a particular result that we want — what’s the best way for us to describe that?”

The remarks that raised eyebrows came at the end of last month, when Obama said “snappy” slogans like “defund the police” risk alienating people who may actually support police reform.

During its first week of publication, sales of Obama’s new book, A Promised Land, reached 1.7 million in America and Canada, the largest week-one sales total for any book ever published by Penguin Random House. Its first-day sales also broke the publishers’ record.

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