During a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Singapore, President Obama fielded several questions about Donald Trump. In doing so, Obama questioned the Republican nominee’s “fitness” to serve as the President of the United States. He also considered whether or not Trump’s comments about the Khan family and Russia’s annexation of Ukraine raise questions of his leadership abilities. Without missing a beat, he answered, “Yes, I think the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president. I said so last week and he keeps on proving it.” Obama then challenged GOP lawmakers to withdraw their support from Trump’s ticket, especially if they’d already issued public concerns about his candidacy.
Citing Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain’s condemnations of Trump, Obama suggested, “The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Sure, they disagree along party lines about a lot of pertinent issues, Obama reminds his audience, but Trump’s example isn’t the same as past presidential scuffles. “I think I was right, and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong, on certain policies, but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job.”
So why does Obama think Trump is so different from his past Republican rivals? The New York real estate mogul doesn’t suffer from an “episodic gaffe,” but rather a “daily” occurrence.” Hence why Obama thinks “there has to be a point at which [Republicans] say, this is not somebody I can support for President of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.” And since this hasn’t happened on a significant scale, the president argues how Ryan and McCain’s “denunciations ring hollow.”
As Vox’s Seth Masket frames it, Obama’s comments will probably — more than anything — serve as bait for Trump. GOP leaders and luminaries like Ryan and McCain probably won’t pull a Richard Hanna and vote for Hillary Clinton.
Once Trump is done with his bucket of KFC, however, he’ll probably jump onto Twitter to post a new rant about Obama’s remarks.