After President Barack Obama blasted what he characterized as divisive rhetoric by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the White House had to answer for a comment Obama made on the campaign trail in 2008.
Locked in a campaign against Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Obama told a crowd in Philadelphia in June 2008 , “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun, because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl.”
A reporter asked Tuesday, “How is that any different than what is going on today on the campaign trail?”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest asserted that he suspects the president would feel that was an “intemperate” remark.
“I haven’t spoken to the president about this, but I suspect he would include that in the category of what he described as some intemperate words that we regret,” Earnest said, adding, “I don’t know that that would fall into the category, but I suspect it might. At the same time I would hasten to point out that seeking to denigrate women or minorities or people with disabilities, or Muslims or people in the other political party in rather colorful fashion is quite a bit different in tenor and tone and objective than the comment you just read.”
The reporter responded, “Than talking about bringing a gun to a fight?”
Earnest said, “Well, maybe it’s the first time you heard that expression.”
Earnest continued, “You understand that that might be different for someone who stands on a stage in front of thousands of roaring people and suggests that somehow Muslims, or people with disabilities or other minorities are responsible for the problems plaguing America.”
The reporter followed asking if Obama “still feels he has the moral authority to tell other candidates how to behave on the campaign trail?”
“He feels a moral responsibility as the president of the United States and as a citizen of this country to stand up for our values and make it clear that the divisive, hateful, rhetoric you see from multiple Republican candidates, not just one of them, is entirely inappropriate and entirely inconsistent with the core values of the country that we love,” Earnest said.