President Obama derided Donald Trump‘s recently unveiled boasts about sexually assaulting women that the candidate brushed off as “locker room talk” during a campaign stop in North Carolina on Tuesday.
“You don’t have to be a husband or a father to hear what we heard just a few days ago and say that’s not right,” Obama said. “You just have to be a decent human being.”
President Obama’s remarks came amid the continuing fallout from the release of a tape on which the Republican nominee can be heard bragging about being able to grab women “by the p-ssy” because of his celebrity status. En route to the events in North Carolina on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president found the tape “repugnant” and called Trump’s statements “worthy of sharp condemnation.” Obama briefly addressed the comments during a fundraising event in Chicago on Sunday, calling them the remarks of an insecure man who has made a habit out of degrading women.
Obama reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, rattling off many comments Trump has made throughout the campaign attacking women, minorities, a Gold Star family, and a disabled reporter. He called Trump unprepared and unwilling to prepare—restating his belief that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever run for the office.
“Tweeting doesn’t qualify you. Soundbites don’t qualify you. Insults certainly don’t qualify you,” Obama said. “Nobody can fully know what it’s like to manage a global crisis… but I tell you, nobody’s been closer to those decisions than Hillary.”
At times felt like Obama was reciting an anti-Trump comedy routine, laughing and egging on the raucous Greensboro audience and adding a southern twang to his speech. The president actually sniffed his hand after mentioning a radio host who has claimed Obama and Secretary Clinton are both “demons” who smell like “sulfur.” He mocked the nominee’s business practices and said not paying taxes makes Trump an irresponsible citizen, not “smart” as he said at the first presidential debate. Obama also chided the Republican Party as a whole for perpetuating a “long list” of conspiracy theories about his presidency and rejecting his policy agenda throughout his administration, saying their actions laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s nomination. The president even flat out asked why it took so long for so many members of the GOP to walk away.
“He’s been saying really bad stuff for a while now,” Obama said. “What did you think he was just going to transform himself?”
Early in the speech, President Obama was interrupted by two protestors who appeared to be wearing t-shirts that alluded to former President Bill Clinton and rape, showcasing the contentious nature of this campaign. During a speech on Monday, the Republican nominee promised to bring to light salacious scandals from the Clintons’ past if more “inappropriate” recordings or tapes involving him are released.
“This is the great thing about politics in America. It takes all kinds. Folks will just do all kinds of stuff,” the president said in response to the protestors. “Those were some folks who were auditioning for a reality show.” When more protestors interrupted later and the president told them to get their “own rally.” The president was interrupted three times.
Tuesday’s appearance was his second in North Carolina this cycle. Before the event, Obama participated in a town hall discussion at North Carolina A&T University hosted by ESPN and the Undefeated on race, sports, and his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have proven to be powerful surrogates on the campaign trail, especially the First Lady, who has delivered emotional appeals to young people on college campuses in battleground states including North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The president made it clear on Tuesday just how badly he wants Secretary Clinton to secure the presidency, repeating his campaign trope that this election will determine the nation’s future for generations to come. The president insisted that the choice between the two candidates is clear, telling the crowd they’ve got “everything to lose” this November.
“If you want to send a message this election, send a resounding message,” Obama said. “Send a message about who we are as the American people and make our kids proud.”