During a speech Wednesday on Capitol Hill about the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which constitutionally banned slavery after the Civil War, President Barack Obama seemed to be offering a subtle rebuke of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony in Emancipation Hall at the U.S Capitol Wednesday. House and Senate Leaders hosted the ceremony to celebrate 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which formally abolished slavery. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“If we were to let cynicism consume us, and fear overwhelm us, if we lost hope, for however slow, however incomplete, however harshly, loudly, rudely challenged at each point along our journey, in America we can create the change that we seek,” Obama said. “All it requires is that our generation be willing to do what those who came before us have done, to rise above the cynicism, rise above the fear, to hold fast to our values, to see ourselves in each other, to cherish dignity and opportunity not just for our own children, but for somebody else's child. To remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of what they looked like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice.”
Obama appeared to put extra emphasis on “what faith they practice,” and numerous members of Congress interrupted his comments with a standing ovation.
Trump called this week for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the policy proposal “disqualified” Trump from holding the office of the presidency.
Asked about the comment during the Wednesday press briefing, Earnest said, "I would not wave you off consideration of the idea that it stands in contrast to the rhetoric you hear from a variety of Republican candidates."
However, Earnest added, "I would contest the notion that this is something the president newly inserted in his remarks aimed at one individual."