Obama Gives Scathing Trump Takedown During Rare In-Person Campaign Appearance
In a rare in-person campaign appearance on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, former President Barack Obama gave a scathing takedown of successor Donald Trump, in a speech studded with taunting, sarcastic punchlines.
The drive-in style rally — a Biden campaign adjustment amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, in which participants remained inside their cars while Obama spoke from a distance outside Lincoln Financial Field — offered a stark contrast to campaign appearances headlined by President Trump, which are often crowded with maskless attendees.
As Obama has become ever more vocal in support of Joe Biden, who was his vice president, Obama has been ever more unsparing in sharing his thoughts about Trump after largely avoiding public criticism for the first years of Trump's presidency.
(Trump, in turn, has regularly mocked Obama just as he has for years.)
In his speech on Wednesday, the Democrat, 59, derided Trump, 74, for the latter's response to the pandemic, which has so far led to the deaths of more than 220,000 Americans, according to a New York Times tracker.
"Presidents up for re-election usually ask if the country is better off than it was four years ago," Obama said. "I’ll tell you one thing: Four years ago you’d be tailgating here at the Lincoln instead of watching a speech from your cars"
"Right now as we speak, Trump won’t even extend relief to the millions of families who are having trouble paying the rent or putting food on the table because of this pandemic," he added, referring to the ongoing negotiations between Congress and the White House over coronavirus stimulus.
Speaking less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Obama urged voters to back Biden's campaign and to not grow complacent based on poll numbers that show the Democratic presidential nominee leading Trump.
Pennsylvania, where the speech was held, is a crucial state in the election and was narrowly on by Trump in 2016.
Elsewhere in his speech, Obama made pointed remarks about Trump's well-documented TV habits — arguing that the American public may have grown tired of watching the former reality star (who has long been consumed with audience size) — and he knocked Trump's friendly reception in some corners of Fox News.
"He hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends or treating the presidency like a reality show that he can use to get attention," Obama said. "And by the way, even then his TV ratings are down. So you know that upsets him."
Referencing recent reports that Trump — who has recently accused Biden, 77, of illicitly pursuing business interests in China — has a secret Chinese bank account, Obama couldn't resist offering a bit of snark.
"Listen, can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for reelection," he said. "You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would’ve called me 'Beijing Barry.' "
The former president didn't hold back when discussing the pandemic, tearing in to Trump for recent remarks in which Trump said he had few regrets in terms of responding to the virus.
"Just yesterday, when asked if he’d do anything differently, Trump said, 'Not much.' Really? Not much?" Obama said. "Nothing you can think of that could have helped some people keep their loved ones alive? So, Joe’s not going to screw up testing. He’s not going to call scientists idiots. He’s not going to host a super spreader event at the White House."
Obama also used the speech as an opportunity to highlight what he called the contrasts between Trump and his own former vice president, Biden.
"It just won’t be so exhausting," Obama said. "You might be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without having an argument. You’ll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president is not going to retweet conspiracy theories about secret cabals running the world or that maybe seals didn’t actually kill bin Laden. Think about that."
Trump, who has a long history of making disparaging remarks about his predecessor, responded to Obama's speech on Twitter.
"Obama is campaigning for us. Every time he speaks, people come over to our side," Trump wrote on Thursday.