Obama: Trump Isn’t a Populist
President Barack Obama blasted Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying that he isn’t a populist.
“I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that’s been popping up is populist,” Obama said in Ottawa after a summit meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.
The Hill reports:
Obama did not mention Trump by name during his self-described “rant” that seemed to hit the GOP candidate because he has “never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues” and instead has “worked against economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people.”
“They don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” the president said at a press conference.
“That’s not the measure of populism. That’s nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or it’s just cynicism.”
Obama said his fight during his eight years in office for better healthcare and education for the underprivileged and his push to reform Wall Street shows he is the true populist.
“I care about people and I want make sure every kid in America has the same opportunities that I had,” the president said.
He added that others in his party, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, “genuinely deserve the title.”
Trump’s meteoric rise to become the GOP’s standard-bearer was built on a pledge to take drastic measures to curb illegal immigration, including the construction of a giant wall at the U.S. southern border at Mexico’s expense.
He’s also promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to try and get better terms for American workers. Those positions helped attract white, working class voters to Trump’s campaign.
But Obama urged the media to scrutinize whether Trump’s record actually makes him a populist.
“Where have they been? Have they been working on the front lines on behalf of working people?” he asked.
“Let’s just be clear: somebody who labels ‘us versus them’ or engaged in rhetoric about how we’re going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy, that’s not the definition of populism. Sorry.”
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