President Barack Obama told NPR in an in-depth interview published Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is “exploiting” the “anger, frustration, fear” among blue-collar men.
Obama said a combination of flatlining wages and economic stresses have made it so “blue-collar men … are no longer getting the same bargain” they got before.
“You combine those things, and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear,” he told NPR’s Steve Inskeep. “Some of it justified, but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That’s what he’s exploiting during the course of his campaign.”
Obama has mostly avoided commenting directly on the 2016 contest, but said in a press conference Friday that he will, obviously, support the eventual Democratic nominee.
He also said no politician “aspires to 100 percent approval ratings,” and that there are legitimate reasons to object to his policy decisions.
“The fact of the matter is that in a big country like this, there is always going to be folks who are frustrated, don’t like the direction of the country, are concerned about the President,” Obama said. “Some of them may not like my policies, some of them may just not like how I walk, or my big ears or, you know. So, I mean, no politician, I think, aspires to 100 percent approval ratings.”
Obama also talked about the coded racist language used to talk about his presidency among some conservatives and elected Republican officials, including rumors that he’s secretly a practicing Muslim.
“In some ways I may represent change that worries them,” he said.
Watch below. His comments start around the 26 minute mark: