President Barack Obama took a thinly veiled jab at Donald Trump Wednesday when he argued that someone doesn’t become a populist by saying “something controversial in order to win votes.”
Speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Canada, Obama said that he considered himself a populist because he has worked in public service to better the lives of others.
“Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers has never fought on behalf of social justice, or making sure that poor kids have a decent shot at life, have worked against economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people,” he said.
“They don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” Obama added. “That is not the measure of populism. That is nativism. Or xenophobia. Or worse, just cynicism.”
Obama named Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as someone he would consider a populist.
The President’s comments come on the heels of Trump’s wide-ranging speech criticizing the United States’ trade deals. Trump said Tuesday night that he would tell Canada and Mexico “that America intends to withdraw from the deal,” referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, if they don’t agree with his intentions to renegotiate.