Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday excoriated President Donald Trump as a failure in one of the most ferocious arguments yet made against Trump’s reelection, violating a longstanding norm that presidents don’t criticize their successors and underscoring the unprecedented nature of the 2020 campaign.
At a rally in Philadelphia, Obama called Trump as lazy and apathetic while asserting his behavior and appointees are harmful to the nation’s institutions.
“This idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is just not true,” Obama said of Trump’s coronavirus response, quipping that the pandemic playbook he passed on to Trump is probably being used to “prop up a wobbly table somewhere.”
Obama cast Trump’s penchant for self-promotion and avoidance of blame as incompatible with the job, declaring, “tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t make peoples’ lives better.”
Obama went further down the totem pole, highlighting some of Trump’s lesser known appointees – Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Medicare and Medicaid chief Seema Verma – and accusing them of purposefully undermining their own agencies.
Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Obama said, “are not going to surround themselves with hacks and lobbyists,” adding that politics “just won’t be so exhausting” under them,
Obama made an impassioned plea for voters in Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, to “out-hustle the other side” and “vote like never before and leave no doubt,” noting that Trump may challenge a close result and refuse to peacefully give up power.
“His TV ratings are down. So you know that upsets him. But the thing is, this is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama said. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”
“President Trump won the election in 2016 because Barack Obama and Joe Biden did such a terrible job for 8 years. Obama is sure reminding us all of that today,” tweeted Trump campaign rapid response staffer Abigail Marone, who also accused Obama of “describing Pennsylvania working-class Americas as ‘bitter’ and ‘cling[ing] to guns or religion.’”
58%. That’s the percent of voters who expressed a favorable view of Obama in a Morning Consult poll in August, compared to just 37% who had an unfavorable view of him. Trump, by contrast, was rated favorably in that poll by 39% of respondents, while 57% said they have an unfavorable view.