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NATION POLITICS ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

This is our look at President-elect Donald Trump's transition and the outgoing Obama administration:

White House

Obama says he could have beaten Trump

 (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Obama says he could have defeated Donald Trump in last month's election by recapturing the same "vision of hope" that twice carried him to the presidency.

Obama also was mildly critical of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, saying her campaign didn't do enough to get her message out.

The remarks were notable because Obama has been careful since the election to avoid criticizing Trump, or to deliver a post-mortem on Clinton's failed bid.

Obama spoke in a wide-ranging interview with former senior advisor and now CNN commentator David Axelrod for the Democratic political operative's Axe Files podcast. The interview was released by CNN on Monday.

"You know, I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I -- if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it," Obama said.

His comments were part of a wider discussion of what he called "ugly" sentiments of racism and xenophobia that surfaced during the 2016 campaign.

Obama repeated his assertion that Clinton faced a double standard as a woman, which put her at a disadvantage.

But he also said a kind of complacency set in that made the Clinton campaign too cautious and thus unable to get its message out sufficiently.

"If you think you're winning, then you have a tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer," Obama said.

During the interview, Obama also spoke of his family, the strength he'd gotten from wife Michelle and the improbability of his own political career.

And the president said the spirit that his candidacy originally inspired, especially among young people, was "never snuffed out" despite the last eight years of turmoil.

"The idealism and the dedication stayed with the staff and got us through some really hard times," he said.

Trump later responded to the remarks on Twitter.

UPDATE

2:07 p.m.: This article was updated with Trump's response.

This article was originally published  at 12:28 p.m.

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