US President Barack Obama dismissed on Thursday the idea that he’s partially responsible for the rise of GOP Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
“I’ve actually heard this argument a number of times,” Obama said after being asked about Trump and the polarization of American politics under his administration.
“I have been blamed by Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they’re selecting for their party is novel,” Obama continued, speaking at a press conference alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He added that one of his biggest regrets as president is the increased level of polarization and the “nasty tone” of American politics.
But then Obama proceeded to place blame for the rise of Trump on conservative talk-radio shows, news outlets, and television.
“[They] have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed, that cooperation or compromise is a betrayal, that maximalist absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous, that there is a ‘them’ out there and an ‘us,'” he said.
He then, in a shot at both Trump and members of the conservative media, snarked that he wasn’t the “one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, however.” Trump was once one of the most prominent people to question the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.
“I don’t remember saying, ‘Hey, 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,'” Obama said. “And so, what you’re seeing within the Republican Party is to some degree all those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where someone like a Donald Trump can thrive.”
“He’s just doing more of what has been done for the last seven and a half years,” he continued, adding that Trump’s positions aren’t very different from Sens. Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
“What I’m not going to do is validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken,” he said.
And what’s interesting, there are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, troubled by the direction of the party. I think it’s very important that they reflect on the politics they engage in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing transpire.
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