Obama rebukes ‘shambolic’ Trump in rare open criticism — while raising millions for his presumptive opponent

Former president says current White House 'actively promotes division' and 'considers some Americans in this country more real than others'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 24 June 2020 17:34
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Obama warns Democrats that they can only win 'if we do the work'

Former President Barack Obama slammed President Donald Trump’s “shambolic” and “mean spirited approach to government” during a rare, fiery rebuke of his successor while speaking at former Vice President Joe Biden’s virtual fundraiser on Tuesday.

“What we have seen over the last couple of years is a White House enabled by Republicans in Congress and a media structure that supports them that has not just differed in terms of policy but has gone at the very foundations of who we are and who we should be," the former president said while denouncing Mr Trump’s “disorganised” administration.

Mr Obama also criticised Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying his is an administration “that suggests facts don’t matter, science doesn’t matter, that suggests a deadly disease is fake news”.

The statement appeared to refer to comments Mr Trump made in which he suggested the Covid-19 outbreak was a “hoax” perpetrated by the Democratic Party.

Mr Obama also said the current White House “actively promotes division” and “considers some Americans in this country more real than others”.

“That, we haven’t seen out of the White House in a very long time”, he added.

The virtual event — in which Mr Obama and Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, spoke about getting the country “back on track” after the Trump administration — was one of the most successful fundraising events yet for the Biden campaign, according to officials.

The former vice president’s campaign reportedly raised $7.6m from nearly 175,000 people throughout the day.

Mr Obama called on Democrats to take further action to help elect Mr Biden come November, saying at one point: “We can’t be complacent or smug or sense that somehow it’s so obvious that this president hasn’t done a good job, because look, he won once.”

“This is serious business,” he added. “Whatever you’ve done so far is not enough. And I hold myself and Michelle and our kids to that same standard.”

Mr Obama declined to endorse any of the 17 Democrats who ran for the party’s presidential nomination throughout the 2020 election cycle, instead waiting for the once-historically diverse pack of candidates to winnow down before throwing his weight behind Mr Biden.

He’s also typically avoided directly attacking Mr Trump, following a tradition set by many modern American presidents, though he’s occasionally spoken out during historic controversies under the current administration, noting in one scathing speech from 2018 about the need for young people to vote: “This moment is different.”

“As a fellow citizen, not as a former president, but as a fellow citizen I am here to deliver a simple message. You need to vote because our democracy depends on it,” Mr Obama said at the time.

On Tuesday, the former president and vice president were all smiles while making their first appearance together on the virtual campaign trail. As the two signed off, Mr Obama said: “Love you, Joe.”

Mr Biden responded: “Love you, too, pal.”

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