President Obama on Thursday dismissed the notion that he’s responsible for the rise of Donald Trump, who has harnessed voter anger during his presidential run.
“I’m not going to validate some notion that the Republican crackup that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken,” he said during a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Obama acknowledged he shares some blame for the widening partisan divide during his term in office, but he urged GOP elites to do some “introspection” about how the “the politics they’ve engaged in allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire.”
Despite his feuds with Republicans in Congress, Obama insisted that he wants “an effective Republican Party.”
“I think this country has to have responsible parties that can govern,” he said, adding the GOP could “challenge some of the blind spots and dogmas in the Democratic Party” on issues such as trade.
He pointed a finger at conservative media and GOP leaders for fueling “a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal; that maximalist, absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous; that there is a ‘them’ out there and an ‘us,’ and the ‘them’ are the folks causing the problems you’re experiencing.”
He cited the movement of people who question his birthplace as a prominent example of that phenomenon.
“I don’t think I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example,” he said. “I don’t recall saying, ‘hey, why don’t you ask me about that. Why don’t you question whether I’m American or whether I’m loyal or whether I have America’s best interests at heart?’”
Trump’s rise has disturbed many in the Republican Party, who believe that the bombastic candidate could lose in a match-up with Hillary Clinton while doing irreparable damage to the party’s brand.
The billionaire real estate mogul has called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. and said many Mexican immigrants are “criminals” and “rapists,” rhetoric that could turn off wide swaths of general election votes.
Some well-known Republicans have said, however, Obama bears responsibility for voters’ affinity to Trump.
“After seven years of the cool, weak and endlessly nuanced ‘no drama Obama,’ voters are looking for a strong leader who speaks in short, declarative sentences,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this month.
“Middle-class incomes are stagnant, and radical Islam is on the march across the Middle East,” the former 2016 candidate wrote. “No wonder voters are responding to someone who promises to make America great again.”
Trump’s dominance in the primary contests so far has made it increasingly likely that he will be the GOP’s standard-bearer in the fall. Obama in the past has expressed doubt that Trump will win the election, saying he has faith in the American people’s judgment.
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— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 10, 2016
SOURCE: The Hill – Jordan Fabian