President Barack Obama is pushing back against the notion that Donald Trump is fighting for ordinary Americans. Instead, Obama calls Trump an elitist.
“Mr. Trump embodies global elites and has taken full advantage of it his entire life,” the president said in an interview with National Public Radio. “So, he’s hardly a spokesperson — a legitimate spokesperson — for a populist surge of working-class people on either side of the Atlantic.”
(Curiously, Obama chose to refer to Trump as “Mr. Trump.”)
Obama cautioned Americans and Europeans not to read too much into the unexpected Brexit vote, calling it a “pause” in the ongoing effort to integrate Europe into a untied bureaucratic entity.
“There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO’s gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner,” he said. “That’s not what’s happening.”
He tried to soften the blow, blaming the European Union for progressing too fast without explaining the benefits to its coalition countries.
“I think this will be a moment when all of Europe says, ‘Let’s take a breath and let’s figure out how do we maintain some of our national identities, how do we preserve the benefits of integration, and how do we deal with some of the frustrations that our own voters are feeling,’” Obama said.
He also attributed the success of the Brexit “Leave” campaign to xenophobia and nationalistic sentiments, adding that Trump was trying to inflame those tensions.
“There’s a xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that’s flashing up not just in Great Britain but throughout Europe that has some parallels with what Mr. Trump has been trying to stir up here,” Obama said.