WASHINGTON — President Obama told reporters today that he never felt 2008 challenger Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) nor 2012 challenger Mitt Romney were unqualified for the White House, as he now feels with Donald Trump.
Appearing in a joint news conference with visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Obama declared “the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president — I said so last week, and he keeps on proving it.”
“The notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that had made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country, the fact that he doesn’t appear to have basic knowledge around critical issues in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, means that he’s woefully unprepared to do this job,” Obama said.
“And this is not just my opinion. I think what’s been interesting is the repeated denunciations of his statements by leading Republicans, including the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader and prominent Republicans like John McCain. And the question I think that they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him? What does this say about your party that this is your standard bearer?”
The president said he doesn’t doubt the “sincerity” of denunciations some Republican lawmakers have made against Trumps’ comments, “but there has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding, to occupy the most powerful position in the world — because a lot of people depend on the White House getting stuff right.”
He added that “there have been Republican presidents with whom I disagreed with but I didn’t have a doubt that they could function as president.”
“I think I was right and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues, but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job,” Obama continued. “And had they won, I would have been disappointed but I would have said to all Americans they are — this is our president and I know they’re going to abide by certain norms and rules and common sense, will observe basic decency, will have enough knowledge about economic policy and foreign policy and our constitutional traditions and rule of law that our government will work. And then we’ll compete four years from now to try to win an election.”
In a summer 2012 interview with Charlie Rose, Obama said Romney’s experience at Bain “doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to think about the economy as a whole, because as president, my job is to think about the workers.”
Obama said today he doesn’t think Trump “actually represents the views of a whole lot of Republicans out there.”
“There has to come a point at which you say enough,” he said. “And the alternative is that the entire party, the Republican Party effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated by Mr. Trump.”
Trump responded by issuing a statement calling Obama “a failed leader who along with Secretary of State Clinton created a foreign policy that has destabilized the world and made it an unsafe place.”
“He is the one who is unfit to be president and Hillary Clinton is equally unfit,” Trump said. “…They have betrayed our security and our workers, and Hillary Clinton has proven herself unfit to serve in any government office.”
“She is reckless with her emails, reckless with regime change, and reckless with American lives. Our nation has been humiliated abroad and compromised by radical Islam brought onto our shores. We need change now.”