Election 2020

Obama: GOP 'Used to be Opposed to Russia and Authoritarianism,' Now Putin is Trump's 'Role Model'

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

President Obama hit the campaign trail for a resting Hillary Clinton today, telling the crowd that he “really, really, really” wants his 2008 challenger to be commander in chief as “you don’t grade the presidency on a curve.”

“Somehow, as things go on, because we become so partisan, our standards for what’s normal have changed. And Donald Trump says stuff every day that used to be considered as disqualifying for being president. And yet because he said it over and over again, the press just gives up, and they say, well yes, you know, OK,” Obama said at a rally in Philadelphia.

The president has taken digs at the GOP nominee before but usually not by name. Today, though, was different.

“He’s not really a plans guy, a fact guy. He calls himself a business guy, but America has got a lot of business men and women who succeeded without hiding their tax returns or leaving a trail of lawsuits, workers who didn’t get paid, people feeling like they got cheated,” Obama said. “I mean, look. I keep on reading this analysis that, well, you know, Trump’s got support from like working folks. Really? This is the guy you want to be championing working people? This guy who spent 70 years on this earth showing no concern for working people — this guy’s suddenly going to be your champion?”

“I mean, he spent most of his life trying to stay as far away from working people as he could. And now this guy is going to be the champion of working people? He wasn’t going to let you on his golf course. He wasn’t going to let you buy in his condo. And now suddenly this guy is going to be your champion?”

Obama referenced his recent trip to the ASEAN meeting, where he said other world leaders “don’t even understand how this is close.”

“And then you’ve got The Donald, who just last week went on Russian state television to talk down our military and to curry favor with Vladimir Putin. He loves this guy, loves this guy. Think about what’s happened to the Republican Party. Right? They used to be opposed to Russia and authoritarianism and fighting for freedom and fighting for democracy,” he continued.

“And now their nominee is out there praising a guy, saying he’s a strong leader because he invades smaller countries, jails his opponents, controls the press and drives his economy into a long recession… And when the interviewer asked him well, why do you support this guy? He’s a strong guy, look, he’s got an 82 percent poll rating. Well, yes, Saddam Hussein had a 90 percent poll rating. I mean, if you control the media and you’ve taken away everybody’s civil liberties and you jail dissidents, that’s what happens.”

Obama said he deals with Putin because “that’s part of foreign policy,” but “I don’t go around saying that’s my role model.”

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan idolizing somebody like that? He saw America as a shining city on a hill; Donald Trump calls it a divided crime scene,” he said.

He dropped Reagan’s name at another point in the speech, insisting “this isn’t Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party; this isn’t even division of freedom that Ronald Reagan talked about.”

The president also referenced a Washington Post story that said Trump used money from his charitable foundation to buy a large self-portrait.

“You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate’s family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate’s foundation took money, other people gave to his charity, and then bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself,” Obama said. “I mean, you know, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version, but…”

Obama spent a good portion of his address touting his record –“more Americans are working, more have health insurance, incomes are rising, poverty is falling, and gas is $2.00 a gallon.”

“Thanks, Obama,” he thanked himself.