With a clear focus on Donald Trump’s campaign, President Obama expressed a yearning Monday for Republicans to move away from the “unrecognizable” place they now inhabit.
He also said he looks forward to the day when Republicans are done venting their frustrations and drop their support of Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz.
Obama’s comments may not have the power to change the dynamics of the Republican race. Former Obama operative David Axelrod Monday called Trump “a perfect counterpoint” to Obama and the “antithesis” of the president.
Or, as a poster named Lee told the New York Times, “Want to know why Trump resonates? For every complaint about Trump, compare him to Obama. Trump is the mirror image one-up to Obama. ”
Obama was interviewed by Politico correspondent Glenn Thrush. In looking at this year’s presidential election, Obama said the critical contrast is not between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but between the Democratic candidates and their Republican counterparts.
“When I ran against John McCain, John McCain and I had real differences, sharp differences, but John McCain didn’t deny climate science,” Obama said. Trump has questioned the research surrounding climate change.
“John McCain didn’t call for banning Muslims from the United States. You know, John McCain was a conservative, but he was well within, you know, the mainstream of not just the Republican Party but within our political dialogue,” Obama said.
“And that’s where, ultimately, any voter is going to have to pay attention is the degree to which the Republican rhetoric and Republican vision has moved not just to the right but has moved to a place that is unrecognizable.”
Obama said he hopes for a more “constructive” candidate than either Trump or Cruz.
“Well, my hope — not just for me or the Democratic Party but for the Republican Party and for America – is that this is an expression of frustration, anger that folks like Trump and, to some degree, Cruz, are exploiting. It’s real within the Republican Party and the Republican base, but that after this venting, Republican voters will settle down and say, ‘Who do we want actually sitting behind the desk, making decisions that are critical to our future?’” Obama said.
Trump was also on the mind of former Obama advisor David Axelrod, who penned a piece for the New York Times of the billionaire.
“Relentlessly edgy, confrontational and contemptuous of the niceties of governance and policy making, Mr. Trump is the perfect counterpoint to a president whose preternatural cool and deliberate nature drive his critics mad,” Axelrod wrote.
“So who among the Republicans is more the antithesis of Mr. Obama than the trash-talking, authoritarian, give-no-quarter Mr. Trump? His bombast allows no room for nuance or complexity. He proudly extols his intolerance as an assault against ‘political correctness,’ and he vows to bring the world to heel, from Mexico to China to Syria and Iraq.
“The robust condemnations Mr. Trump has received from media and political elites have only intensified the enthusiasm of his supporters, many of whom feel disdained and forgotten by the very same people who regularly mock and chide their man for his boorishness.”
h/t: Business Insider