Barack Obama speaks during a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2016.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
March 10, 2016 2:23 PM EST

President Obama, who has faced criticism in recent days for his role in the emergence of Donald Trump as a viable Presidential candidate, said Thursday that he is not to blame for the “Republican crackup.”

Conservative lawmakers and columnists have recently taken to blaming Obama for the rise of the leading Republican presidential candidate, arguing that the President’s partisanship has provoked an extreme response. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last week, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Obama “created the very rancor he now rails against.”

“Mr. Obama likes to bemoan the increasing partisan divides across the country, as if he were merely a passive observer at best and a victim at worst. Uncharacteristically, the president is being too modest,” Jindal wrote. “There would be no Donald Trump, dominating the political scene today if it were not for President Obama.”

The left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America is keeping a running tally of all of the conservative voices holding Obama responsible for Trump’s success.

On Thursday, during a joint press conference with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Obama fired back on such claims.

“I have been blamed by Republicans for many things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they’re selecting for their party, uh, is novel,” Obama said.

President Obama admitted, as he did in the 2016 State of the Union, that one of his regrets as president was his inability to bridge the partisan divide in politics, which has only grown during his two terms in office. “I do all kinds of soul searching in terms of—are there things I can do better to make sure that we’re unifying the country,” Obama said.

“What I’m not going to do is validate some notion that the Republican crackup that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken,” he added.

Instead, the President blamed the Republican political elite and partisan media for stoking the flames of anger and discontent.

“Objectively, it’s fair to say that the Republican political elites and many of the information outlets…have been feeding the Republican base for the last 7 years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed. That cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal,” Obama said.

“The tone of that politics, which I certainly have not contributed to–I don’t think I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example,” he continued. “What you’re seeing within the Republican party is to some degree all those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where someone like a Donald Trump can thrive.”

The President also called on Republicans who are “troubled” by Trump to think more on their own role in his candidacy.

“I think it’s very important for them to reflect on what it is about the politics they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire and to do some introspection because ultimately I want an effective Republican party,” Obama said.



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