- President Bill Clinton criticised President Donald Trump on Monday.
- “I don’t believe your ability to badmouth someone else is evidence of authenticity,” Clinton said.
President Bill Clinton took a jab at President Donald Trump in a Monday speech, becoming the third president in three weeks to implicitly take a shot at him.
Speaking at Georgetown University in a speech marking the 25-year anniversary of his electoral victory in 1992, Clinton blasted the president for his tendency to “badmouth” others. He did not mention Trump by name in the comment.
“I don’t believe your ability to badmouth someone else is evidence of authenticity,” Clinton said to applause from the crowd. “I don’t.”
Some who attended the speech interpreted it as a shot at Trump. He also criticised the administration’s positions on healthcare, climate change, trade, and immigration.
Last week, Trump called for the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the 42nd president’s wife.
Clinton’s remarks followed comments last month from former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush that were viewed as criticism of the current president.
“In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined,” he said. “Our governing class has often been paralysed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
Later that day, in nearby Newark, New Jersey, Obama hit the campaign trail for the first time since leaving office, criticising the “politics of division” that “we see now.”
“What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries,” Obama said at an event for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in New Jersey. “Some of the things we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century.”
Former presidents don’t typically criticise their successors publicly
It’s long-standing tradition for past presidents and vice presidents to provide a grace period for a new administration, during which they do not provide commentary critical of the current White House. While Clinton, Bush, and Obama did not mention Trump by name, the implicit criticism is unprecedented at this young stage of a presidency.
It is rare for former presidents to criticise an administration at any point, even past the so-called grace period.
Responding to Obama’s and Bush’s remarks last month, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they were not speaking about Trump.
“It’s our understanding that those comments were not directed towards the president,” she said. “And in fact, when these two individuals, both past presidents, have criticised the president, they have done so by name and very rarely do it without being pretty direct as both of them tend to be, so we will take them at their word that these actions and comments were not directed towards the president.”
Watch Clinton’s comments:
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