Of Trump, Obama once reportedly told an aide: “I’m clearly renting space inside the guy’s head”

By Virginia Chamlee
September 10, 2020 08:25 PM
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President Donald Trump (left) and former President Barack Obama
Sean Rayford/Getty; Sean Gallup/Getty

President Donald Trump still has his predecessor on his mind.

Trump tweeted Thursday that former President Barack Obama is "lucky" he didn't run his re-election campaign against someone who could "fight and win."

In the tweet, Trump, 74, insinuated that Obama, 59, won the 2012 election because he ran against then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney, now a Utah senator, "a man with very little talent or political skill, as opposed to someone who knows how to fight and win!"

The tweet suggests that Trump believes he could have bested Obama in a head-to-head political match-up. Trump, who won the majority of electoral votes in the 2016 election, lost the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton.

In 2012, Obama won a majority of both the electoral and popular votes, as he did in 2008.

Trump's tweet comes on the heels of news that he has called Obama "overrated" and "not very smart," in remarks made to journalist Bob Woodward as part of a bombshell book that began making the rounds this week and was reported on by CNN, The Washington Post and others.

One passage in Woodward's forthcoming book, Rage — set for release on Tuesday — quotes Trump as saying: "I don’t think Obama’s smart. I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.”

In a separate passage, Trump tells Woodward that North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, whom Trump has quasi-befriended, called Obama "an a------."

While Trump and his allies have decried the book as a "political hit job," Woodward has said he interviewed the president 18 times and recorded his interviews with the president's permission.

Snippets of those recordings have already been released to news outlets.

These details come after another book, by Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen, called Disloyal. Cohen writes that Trump once hired an Obama impersonator, "firing" him in an Apprentice-style video he reportedly filmed for the 2012 Republican National Convention. (The clip has been available to view online since 2013.)

In another part of his book, according to the Post, Cohen writes that Trump allegedly said he believes Obama only got accepted into Harvard Law and Columbia University because of “f------ affirmative action.”

Trump's years-long animosity toward Obama is no secret. Before he became president, Trump helped launch the so-called "birther" movement by spreading the racist conspiracy that Obama wasn't born in the United States.

The two men met in person shortly after Trump was elected and again in January 2017, when Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president. Though those meetings were cordial, the relationship between the pair — such as it is — never warmed.

Donald Trump
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Trump has claimed Obama conspired with the so-called "deep state" of anti-Trump government employees to sabotage his presidency, despite not offering any evidence to back up his allegations.

For his part, Obama largely stayed away from responding to Trump's attacks or criticizing his successor in equally sharp terms, with a few notable exceptions.

(The New York Times reported that Obama told an aide in 2016: “I’m clearly renting space inside the guy’s head,” in reference to Trump.)

Though Obama avoided public comment on Trump's policies in the early years of the latter's administration, he has publicly grown more vocal this year while he stumps for his former Vice President Joe Biden, who is Trump's election rival.

The former president has also grown more pointed in criticizing Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a speech given at the Democratic National Convention last month, Obama said, "Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before."