President Barack Obama gave Republicans a frank dressing-down for allowing Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee by “feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years” at the annual Ohio Democrats’ dinner Thursday night.
“The problem is not that all Republicans think the way this guy does,” the president told the crowd in Columbus. “The problem is that they’ve been riding this tiger for a long time. They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years, primarily for political expedience. So if Trump was running around saying I wasn’t born here, they were okay with that as long as it helped them with votes. If some of these folks on talk radio talked about how I was the antichrist, that’s just politics.”
“They stood by while this happened,” Obama went on. “And Donald Trump–as he’s prone to do—he didn’t build the building himself, he just slapped his name on it and took credit for it. And that’s what happened in their party. All that bile, all that exaggeration and stuff not grounded in fact, started bubbling up, surfacing. They knew better but didn’t say anything.”
The pointed speech took aim at Republicans who have recently withdrawn support for their nominee after a 2005 tape leaked in which Trump can be heard bragging about groping women without their consent. According to Obama, the GOP knew who they were holding up as the standard-bearer for their party long before the “Access Hollywood” recording came out, and that he did not represent the principles they claim to represent.
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) October 14, 2016
“You claim the mantle of the party of family values, and this is the guy you nominate,” Obama said.
“They don’t get credit for, at the very last minute, when finally the guy they nominated and they endorsed and they supported is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about, much less laugh about or joke about, much less act on,” he said of the two-dozen Republicans who withdrew endorsements or called on Trump to drop out of the race after the video came out.
On Wednesday, the party’s problems became more complicated when at least four women came forward accusing Trump of acting on the exact behavior he described in the leaked tape: forcibly groping and kissing them without permission.
The real estate mogul has lashed out at the press, GOP leadership, and establishment for what he claims is a coordinated attack to bring him down in the final weeks of the race, and his rhetoric has become increasingly paranoid and conspiratorial. At a Thursday speech in Florida, Trump claimed Hillary Clinton
“meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends, and her donors.”
These ideas are ripped from the headlines of Alex Jones’ conspiracy site InfoWars and right-wing website Breitbart, the former home of Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon.
As Obama pointed out in Columbus, other in Trump’s party have allowed conspiracies, like the notion he was not actually born in the United States, to fester, in order to appeal to their base.
Referring to GOP rhetoric as a “swamp of crazy,” the president said, “If your only agenda is … crazy based on lies, based on hoaxes, this is the nominee you get.”
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