PHILADELPHIA – Former President Barack Obama took off the gloves and criticized his successor during his speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, saying that Donald Trump “has shown no interest” in his job as president.
Obama, who was originally supposed to be the final speaker, asked to change the order to symbolically pass the torch to Sen. Kamala Harris, who formally was named the vice presidential nominee, ABC News reported.
“I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president. I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies,” Obama said at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. “I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.
“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” Obama said. “And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.
“He has shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”
Trump, apprised of Obama’s remarks — excerpts were released before his speech — during a news conference late Wednesday afternoon, countered with his own criticism.
“Now, President Obama did not do a good job,” Trump told reporters. “And the reason I’m here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden, because if they did a good job, I wouldn’t be here, and probably if they did a good job, I wouldn’t have even run. I would have been very happy, I enjoyed my previous life very much, but they did such a bad job that I stand before you as president.
“When I look at what we have, and I look at how bad he was, how ineffective a president he was, he was so ineffective, so terrible, (the) slowest growing recovery in the history, I guess since 1929, on the economy.”
Obama had been reluctant to take on Trump directly. But he voiced his criticisms and mostly focused on praise for Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
“There is a deep belief by not just Obama, but many people who have worked for him, that we can recover from four years of Trump, but the damage from eight would be irreversible,” Jen Psaki, who served as Obama’s White House communications director, told The New York Times. “That urgency from Obama is powerful. He has also been pretty clear that he doesn’t see a Biden administration as a replication of his own as much as an opportunity to build on progress.”
Obama praised Biden during his speech Wednesday night.
“So let me tell you about my friend Joe Biden. Twelve years ago, when I began my search for a vice president, I didn’t know I’d end up finding a brother. Joe and I came from different places and different generations,” Obama said. “But what I quickly came to admire about him is his resilience, born of too much struggle; his empathy, born of too much grief. Joe’s a man who learned early on to treat every person he meets with respect and dignity, living by the words his parents taught him: ‘No one’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.’
“That empathy, that decency, the belief that everybody counts — that’s who Joe is,” Obama said