“I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president, and the reason is because I have a lot of faith in Americans,” Obama said. “I think they recognize being president is a serious job. This is not hosting a talk show, or a reality show. It’s not promotion; it’s not marketing,” the president continued when asked about Trump’s odds during a news conference in Rancho Mirage, CA, where he is attending a summit with leaders of 10 southeast Asian countries.
“It’s hard,” Obama continued. “It’s not pandering – doing whatever will get you in the news that day. … It’s doing things that are unpopular, and standing up for people who are vulnerable.” The office, Obama continued pointedly, “requires working with leaders around the world in a way that reflects the importance of the office and gives people confidence that you know the facts, and you know their name, and you know where they are on a map, and know something about their history, and do not just play to the crowd back home – because [those foreign leaders] have their own crowds back home and you’re trying to solve problems.”
Continuing his scorched-earth Trump ding, Obama chided the media for, so far, having covered the race “just like entertainment.”
“But as you get closer [to election day], the reality of it has a way of introducing itself,” Obama promised. Ultimately, he predicted, American voters will remember “the person who will be standing where I am now” has the nuclear codes, can send 21-year-olds into battle, are charged with making sure the banking system doesn’t collapse, and will be the person 20 other countries with big problems will look to for look solutions. The American people are pretty sensible, and I think they will make a sensible choice in the end.”
In fairness, Obama said Trump is just a more colorfully packaged version of ideas other GOP candidates are espousing.
Of the other candidates, Obama said: “You’ve got a candidate that sponsored a bill I supported to finally solve our immigration problem and he’s running away from it as fast as he can. They all deny climate change. I think that’s troubling to the international community. They count on the United States being on the side of science and reason, and common sense. They know if United States does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will. This not just Mr. Trump.”
Not long thereafter, Trump was sitting down with the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party at a campaign stop in that state and was asked to respond to Obama’s comment. “This man has done such a bad job,” Trump said, ticking off all the ways in which he felt Obama’s administration had failed. “Obamacare is terrible,” “the border is Swiss cheese,” “he’s set us back so far,” etc. – and concluded – “for him to say that is a compliment.” For good measure, Trump said directly to Obama, “You’re lucky I didn’t run last time, when Romney ran, because you would have been a one-term president.” Moving past that withering “might have been” thought, Trump promised: “We’re going to do it. … We’re going to win. We’re going to Make America Great Again,” he said, reverting to theme.
Trump now holds a 16 point lead in South Carolina over closest GOP candidate, Ted Cruz, four days before that state’s primary.