Donald Trump repeatedly attacked then-President Barack Obama for golfing during times of tragedy and disaster from 2011 to 2016, a CNN KFILE review of his comments finds.
In media appearances, posts on social media, and speeches as a commentator and later as candidate for president, Trump said Obama’s golfing made it appear he was tired of being president, adding that Obama should have given up golf when his White House term started.
“He may play more golf than any human being in America, and I’m not sure that’s good for the President,” Trump said in one January 2015 comment.
The President is now facing his own criticism for golfing twice during Memorial Day weekend as the coronavirus death toll in the United States approaches 100,000 – an action he defended as “exercise” accompanied by attacks on Obama’s golfing habits.
Trump previously drew criticism for golfing during Hurricane Dorian in September of 2017 and later that month attended a golf tournament and his own New Jersey club after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.
Trump said the media never covered, “all of the time Obama spent on the golf course, often flying to Hawaii in a big, fully loaded 747, to play. What did that do to the so-called Carbon Footprint?”
“Barack was always playing golf,” he added in a tweet.
Since taking office, Trump has golfed and traveled more than Obama, a CNN fact check on Monday reported – with the President spending one out of every 4.92 days so far at a golf property.
Speaking on Fox News in March 2011, Trump criticized Obama for golfing when Japan was hit by the earthquake and tsunami that damaged several nuclear facilities.
“For him to be playing golf, simultaneously with that happening – you’re talking about the day of and the day after – to be playing golf I think is very inappropriate,” Trump said at the time.
“The image of him on a golf course, while Japan is in that kind of trouble,” he added. “This is catastrophic trouble, I think is totally inappropriate.”
Trump was a frequent critic of Obama golfing in 2014, attacking him for golfing after the beheading of journalist James Foley and when there were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States.
“It was a terrible image,” Trump said of Obama golfing after a news conference of Foley’s beheading.
“This was a bad time to be playing golf,” he added.
Speaking on Fox News’ “On The Record” in October 2014, Trump said Obama’s golfing after the beheading made it appear he was tired of being president.
“You wouldn’t think that that’s something that’s not a PR person has to say it’s not a good time for you to be playing golf,” he said. “That’s really bad. That was just bad. And it just looks to me like he’s tired of the position.”
In September 2014, Trump mixed mockery with his criticism, offering Obama a lifetime of free golf if he resigned from office in a viral tweet.
“If Obama resigns from office NOW, thereby doing a great service to the country—I will give him free lifetime golf at any one of my courses!,” Trump tweeted.
Trump subsequently talked to Fox and Friends about his tweet.
“You know, it’s interesting that if you’re the President of the United States, such a great honor, such an important place, it’s such an important thing to be,” Trump said. “You would really think he’s going to be there for another two years – you would think he’d never want to leave the White House. You would think he’d want to be there all the time.”
“You should be working your ass off and do it right,” Trump added. “You shouldn’t be taking vacations. He’s going to be taking a vacation for the rest of his life. Do it right. Don’t leave the White House or leave the White House on a mission not to play golf.”
Trump also went off on Obama golfing when there were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States in October 2014.
“When you’re president, you sort of say like, I’m going to slowly give it up for a couple of years and I’m going to really focus on the job,” he said.
“There are times to play and there are times that you can’t play and it sends the wrong signal,” he added. “But he plays a lot of golf.”
Only two people contracted Ebola in the United States in total, both nurses who treated a patient who had traveled from overseas. Eleven total cases of Ebola were treated in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2015 and White House run
In a speech in New Hampshire two months prior to announcing his 2016 presidential run, Trump criticized Obama for golfing, citing the September 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of certain non-profit conservative groups for delayed processing of applications.
“Whether it’s Benghazi, whether it’s IRS, whether it’s any of the many things that you see that are going wrong with our country,” he said in April 2015. “The executive orders are an outrage. We have a president that can’t lead. He said the hell with it. I’m not going to do this anymore. I want to rest and I want to do other things, including going out to play golf.
“This guy played hundreds of rounds of golf,” he continued. “I shouldn’t complain. I own golf courses all over the world. So I shouldn’t be angry at him. It’s good, except it’s not good because he should be doing other things. But he signs executive orders because he’s given up.”
Trump also hammered Obama during the floods that devastated parts of Louisiana in August of 2016. Trump and his running mate, then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, toured the flood-damaged state.
“We’re glad you’re not playing golf in Martha’s Vineyard. That’s all we can say,” a woman shouted to Trump when he visited. “Somebody is,” Trump said. “Somebody is that shouldn’t be.”
Trump later criticized Obama for visiting, saying in a tweet, “President Obama should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing. Too little, too late!”