In an interview published Monday morning, President Barack Obama said he hopes that the Republican Party nominates someone more moderate than the party’s current presidential front-runners.
Obama, speaking with Politico correspondent Glenn Thrush, implicitly compared the 2016 race to his own opponent in 2008: Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).
“When I ran against John McCain, John McCain and I had real differences, sharp differences, but John McCain didn’t deny climate science,” Obama recalled.
“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,” he continued. “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 was referring the political agenda of real-state mogul Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner. Trump has for years questioned the validity of mainstream climate science and ignited a national firestorm last month by proposing to bar all Muslim tourists and immigrants from entering the US.
Thrush then asked Obama: “Where do you think it ends?”
The president said his hope was for the Republicans to nominate a more “constructive” candidate than either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is currently Trump’s top rival in the primary.
“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.
“And I’ve always said I want a healthy, two-party system where there’s vigorous debate but both parties are contributing to a constructive vision of the country and help us make progress,” he added. “And it will be interesting to watch, during the course of this campaign, whether or not Republican voters steer back towards the center.”
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