Republicans should have seen Donald Trump coming, President Barack Obama argued in front of Democratic donors Friday.
Excoriating the GOP front-runner while mocking party establishment figures who now are urgently moving to prevent Trump from securing the nomination, Obama said the businessman’s past should have served as prologue.
“We’re shocked someone is fanning anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiment!” Obama said in jest, jabbing Republicans for acting surprised at a candidate who is “loose with the facts” or “distorts someone’s record.”
“How could you be shocked?” the President exclaimed during a fundraiser in Austin. “This was the guy who was sure I was born in Kenya.”
“As long as it was being directed at me they were fine with it. It was a hoot,” Obama continued. “And suddenly they’re shocked.”
Obama has made little attempt to mask his disdain for Trump since the former reality star entered the race in the middle of last year. He and his aides, believing that Trump will prove deeply unpopular with moderate general-election voters, have worked to lump all Republicans into the same mold.
Obama continued that effort Friday, claiming the rise of Trump had been fueled by an unraveling of the Republican Party’s policy agenda.
Trump, he said, reflects a “distillation of what has been going on in their party for more than a decade.”
“This is the message that’s been fed – that you just deny the evidence of science. That compromise is a betrayal. That the other side isn’t simply wrong, we disagree.”
“Look it up, that’s what they’ve been saying,” he said. “So they can’t be surprised when somebody says, ‘I can make up stuff better than that.’”
Obama was in Texas addressing the annual South by Southwest festival, focusing his remarks on improving civil engagement through technology. He had several other fundraisers slated for his stay in the Lone Star State.
As his term winds down, Obama has focused on touting his presidential record before mostly friendly crowds. Until a Democratic nominee emerges, he’s expected to limit his campaign engagements to fundraisers, where he remains a draw for donors with deep pockets.
Friday, Obama noted strides in the economy, saying his record as president would provide Democrats a boost – as long as they choose to embrace it.
“Imagine what Trump would say if he had this record … instead of selling steaks,” he said.