President Barack Obama speaks during the opening day of South By Southwest at the Long Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, March 11, 2016, in Austin, Texas. | AP Photo
Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Austin, Texas, on Friday evening, President Barack Obama lit into Donald Trump, by turns mocking him for “selling steaks” and ripping his rhetoric— while urging the GOP to take responsibility for creating him.
“So here’s the truth,” Obama began as he defended his economic record against Trump’s criticism. “Look it up. America is pretty darn great right now.”
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“We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” Obama said in a clear reference to Trump’s Tuesday-night press conference, where he wheeled out products like Trump Steaks and Trump Water to prove his business bona fides.
Then the president launched into a lengthy series of taunts of his own, blistering the Republican establishment for being “shocked that somebody is fanning anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-Muslim sentiment.”
“How can you be shocked?” he asked. “This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya. Who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot. Wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.”
“What is happening in this primary is just a distillation of what’s been happening inside their party for more than a decade,” Obama said, accusing Republicans of denying “evidence of science” and viewing Democrats as “destroying the country, or treasonous.”
“That’s what they’ve been saying,” he went on. “So they can’t be surprised when somebody suddenly looks and says, you know what, I can do that even better. I can make stuff up better than that. I can be more outrageous than that. I can insult people even better than that. I can be even more uncivil.”
The upshot of years of Republican obstructionism, he said, was that the GOP “ultimately has no ideas to offer at all.”
Even when Obama allowed that “there are thoughtful conservatives, good people in the Republican Party,” he quickly offered up some more red meat to the crowd: “Some of them have been writing that, well, the reason our party is going crazy is because of Obama, which is a pretty novel idea. The notion is, Obama drove us crazy.”
“Now, the truth is, what they really mean is their reaction to me was crazy and now it has gotten out of hand,” he said, challenging Republicans alarmed by Trump’s ascent to look inward. “Because my question to the folks who are suddenly so spun up is, where have you been the past five, six, seven years?”