President Obama told Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday that he’s “worried” about the future of the Republican Party in light of the rise of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. President Obama sat down with Fallon on the set of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon for an episode that will air in full Thursday.
“The truth is actually I am worried about the Republican Party. And-and I know that sounds– you know– you know what it sounds like,” President Obama said in response to a question about whether he thinks Republicans are happy with their nominee. “You want the Republican nominee to be somebody who could do the job if they win. And you want folks who understand the issues. And where you can sit across the table from them and you have a principled argument. And ultimately can still move the country forward.”
President Obama has been increasingly critical of Trump as the primary season ticks on, though he seldom mentions the presumptive nominee by name. The President, reports say, is eagerly awaiting an opportunity to stump for the Democratic nominee so he can lambast Trump further. On the Tonight Show, Obama said he has been pained by the actions of Republicans over the past seven years, but he believes they’re ultimately good people.
“There are wonderful Republicans out in the country who want what’s best for the country and may disagree with me on some things but are good, decent people,” Obama told Fallon. “But what’s happened in that party culminating in this current nomination, I think is not actually good for the country as a whole. It’s not something Democrats should wish for.”
The President’s comments come in the wake of widespread backlash aimed at the presumptive GOP nominee, who has questioned whether a judge in a lawsuit against Trump University can be unbiased due to his Mexican heritage. When pressed, Trump also said he did not think a Muslim judge could be unbiased against him given his controversial policy proposal to ban the immigration of Muslims.
Obama’s statements on the Tonight Show also came just one day after his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was named the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. The President has not yet publicly endorsed Clinton, though the White House has indicated it could happen in the future. Obama is scheduled to meet with Sen. Bernie Sanders at the White House on Thursday; White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday a formal endorsement likely would not come before then.
Obama told Fallon that he thinks the Democratic primary has been good for the party. “It was a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to have– a contested primary,” Obama said. “I thought that Bernie Sanders brought enormous energy and new ideas. And he pushed the party and challenged them. I thought it made Hillary a better candidate.”
He added that he hopes the candidates will be able to smooth over the “ouchies” they experienced during the campaign. “This is about the country and the direction we’re gonna take it,” Obama said. “And I think we’re gonna have a great convention and we’ll do well.”