Politico has reported that former President Barack Obama secretly met with nine possible 2020 Democrat presidential candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

It’s important to note that no one expects Obama to support or endorse anyone until an official nominee is named.

Obama claimed that once he left office he would leave politics behind, but many of us raised eyebrows when he took an office in Washington, DC.

Well, to no one’s surprise, these meetings have taken place at his office at the World Wildlife Fund building. From Politico:

Obama so far has avoided direct conflict with President Donald Trump — save for a few public statements criticizing his moves attempting to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, Obamacare and the protection program for Dreamers, though without naming Trump.

But Obama is concerned about how his own party is responding, and how it can be best positioned to win in the midterms and in the next presidential cycle to beat back the president and his politics.

He doesn’t see himself as the person to come up with the plan, people who know about the meetings say, but he is eager to be a sounding board and counselor to the Democrats he sees as playing a role in shaping the party’s future.

Obama’s office declined comment on all the meetings.

Sanders met with Obama in mid-March, but we do not know if he will run again in 2020 even though NBC News reported in April that the senator “has basically not stopped campaigning since his presidential bid ended, first for [failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary] Clinton, then on his national book tour. Since Trump took office in January 2017, “Sanders has visited 30 states – including Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.”

Warren first spoke to Obama about the $400,000 speaking fees Obama received when he spoke “at a Wall Street investment firm.” The second meeting took place this April and had more warmth to it as they spoke about “about Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who is now the Democratic nominee for governor in Ohio,” and President Donald Trump. Warren has shown her face a lot more than in 2016. She appeared at a rally with Cordray and “donated $5,000 to the Democratic committee in all 50 states and made the maximum allowable contribution to each of her Senate colleagues who are up for re-election, plus to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

Yes, former Vice President Joe Biden has even spoken to Obama. The two men have remained close since leaving office. Former Massachusetts Governor Devel Patrick has even sought out Obama’s advice. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who has dropped hints about a possible 2020 run, has visited Obama, but people familiar with his meetings said the talks centered around the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

Some hopefuls haven’t met with Obama: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

So what has Obama told them? The 2018 midterms have remained the focus of discussions, with Obama advising how much the party should talk about the Russia investigation “versus focusing on kitchen table issues.” You know, real issues that normal Americans care about.

I’ve blogged about this before, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even encouraging her party to concentrate more on the economy than bashing Trump or bringing up impeachment.

Obama has encouraged the candidates to not “chase shiny objects” and also resist the urge to “hyperventilate over the flash of any tweet.” In other words, don’t act like the media.

The blue wave that the Democrats predicted in 2018 doesn’t seem likely to happen, which has caused Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push Obama to fundraise. Looks like it worked because Obama will attend “a fundraising event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on June 29 in the Bay Area.”

After Hillary’s defeat, the Clinton family has lost their spark and the Democrats have been frantically searching for another face for the party. Despite the secretive meetings now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama becomes more public and embraces the role as Democratic leader.