Whatever your fond memories and elevated estimation of our last president may be, you should now feel free to send even further kudos to Barack Obama for his prescience, according to footage in a new documentary about Hillary Clinton that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival today.
The documentary, simply titled Hillary, will premiere on Hulu in March as a four-part docuseries and tells the life story of the former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate.
Among the many people featured in the series is Clinton’s former running mate, her Vice-Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), who tells a previously unpublicized story about a conversation he had with then-President Obama during the height of the 2016 election campaign.
In a video clip of uncertain vintage, Kaine relates a conversation he had with the Democratic president in which Obama reveals his true measure of the character of the man running against Hillary to replace him in the nation’s office.
“President Obama called me last night and said: ‘Tim, remember, this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House,’” Kaine relates that Obama warned him about Trump’s true political philosophy.
In the video interview, Senator Kaine then laughs and says that Obama “knows me and he knows that I could tend to err,” a judgment that a nearby Hillary Clinton confirms by responding with “I echo that sentiment” and then putting her hands to her chest and adding “But that’s really — the weight of our responsibility is so huge.”
Hillary herself gave the public ample warning about the character of her opponent in the 2016 race, going so far as to accurately predict the influence the autocratic Russian President Vladimir Putin would have on her opponent when she accused Trump of being a puppet of the Kremlin leader during their third nationally televised debate together.
While Clinton ultimately outpolled the man Obama privately regarded as a fascist by nearly 3 million votes, the “Orange Twitler” — as he’s often referred to by those who share Obama’s evaluation of Trump’s totalitarian leanings — somehow managed to win the electoral college by slim margins in a handful of swing states with a healthy assist from an army of Russian bots on social media.
While one must admire President Obama’s dedication to ensuring a free and fair election by refraining from sharing his true feelings about the opponent of his own party’s candidate, in hindsight, one can only wish that he had told every American about his opinion of Trump’s fascist tendencies and perhaps inspired enough additional fervor among those Democrats who failed to make it to the polls to have changed the disastrous results that we’ve had to live through the past three years.
Obama’s message to Kaine, however, is still a potent reminder to Democrats and any unaffiliated voters as the primaries and the 2020 presidential election rapidly approach — this is still no time to be an intransigent purist, voting only for that candidate who precisely mirrors one’s own political philosophy.
We have a fascist to kick out of the White House.
Original reporting by Daniel Arkin at NBC News.