Speed Reads


Obama says Donald Trump is 'exploiting' blue-collar fears

Early Monday, NPR released an interview President Obama conducted with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Friday, before Obama and his family flew to California, then Hawaii for Christmas. Obama and Inskeep spent about half the wide-ranging interview discussing the fight against the Islamic State, but Obama also weighed in on the protests that have been embroiling college campuses, the role his race plays in opposition to his presidency, and the 2016 presidential race, including a pointed comment about Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

"I am confident that a Democrat will win the White House," Obama said. But plenty of Americans are uncomfortable with all the social and economic changes happening in the U.S., he added, specifically mentioning "flatlining" wages and income. "Particularly blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they're no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck," Obama said.

You combine those things, and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear — some of it justified, but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump's taking advantage of that. I mean, that’s what he's exploiting during the course of his campaign. [Obama to NPR]

Obama also touched on the "specific strains in the Republican Party that suggest that somehow I'm different, I'm Muslim, I'm disloyal to the country, etc... what I'd say there is that that's probably pretty specific to me, and who I am and my background," he said. "In some ways, I may represent change that worries them" in "certain pockets of the Republican Party."

Regarding campus protests, Obama said he thinks "it's a healthy thing for young people to be engaged and to question authority and to ask why this instead of that, to ask tough questions about social justice," but that protesters take that too far when they try to block the head of the IMF or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from speaking on campus. "Feel free to disagree with somebody," Obama advised students, "but don't try to just shut them up.... What I don't want is a situation in which particular points of view that are presented respectfully and reasonably are shut down, and we have seen that sometimes happen."

You can watch the interview below; the comment about Trump starts at the 26-minute mark. Peter Weber