Former President Barack Obama said America could "fall apart quickly" without vigilance — and even invoked the rise of Adolf Hitler as an example — but avoided mentioning Republican President Donald Trump during a Q&A session Tuesday night in Chicago.
Greg Hinz, who covered the event for Crain's Chicago Business, called Obama's remarks "jaw-dropping." He also caught the thinly veiled connection to the present commander-in-chief, noting on Twitter regarding Obama's statements, "Take that, @realDonaldTrump":
Obama's comments came during an onstage chat with Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson at the Economic Club of Chicago, Hinz said.
After Obama noted a nativist lack of trust that has swept around the globe of late, Hinz said the former president brought up the necessity of a free press in order to preserve American democracy.
The danger is "grow[ing] complacent," Obama told the crowd, Hinz noted. "We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly."
Obama noted 1930s Germany and Hitler's rise to power, Hinz reported, adding that Obama said, "Sixty million people died" — presumably a reference to the carnage of World War II that followed.
And Obama's solution? "So, you've got to pay attention," he said, according to Hinz. "And vote."
As of Thursday afternoon, none of the responses to Hinz's tweet about Obama's remarks were positive. Instead they all were deeply critical of the former president, calling him a "charlatan," a "fascist" and a "Marxist."
Obama also on Tuesday thanked himself in a speech in which he took credit for American economic growth occurring under Trump.