President Obama lays into the "party of family values": Republicans, "you don't get credit" for finally dumping Donald Trump

“Don’t act like this started with Donald Trump," the president declared. "He didn’t come out of nowhere”

By Sophia Tesfaye
Published October 14, 2016 12:56PM (EDT)
                       (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama has often put aside his commander-in-chief hat to play political pundit in an effort to explain the congressional Republican obstruction he's faced since his first days in office. On Thursday he did it again in Columbus, Ohio, and delivered a blistering rebuke of GOP elected officials, characterizing them as now running away from their presidential nominee as his campaign begins to implode.

At an annual dinner for the Ohio Democratic Party, Obama took aim at Republicans like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who while facing re-election has announced that he will no longer support Donald Trump for the presidency following last week's release of a leaked audio showing him boasting of sexual assault.

“You claim the mantle of the party of family values, and this is the guy you nominate," the president declared about Republicans.

“They know better," Obama said. "A lot of these folks . . . didn’t say anything. So they don’t get credit for, at the very last minute, when finally the guy that they nominated and they endorsed . . . is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about . . . or joke about, much less act on — you can’t wait until that finally happens and then say, ‘Oh, that’s too much! That’s enough!’ and think that somehow you are showing any kind of leadership and deserve to be elected to the United States Senate! You don’t get points for that!”

In a room full of Democratic activists and elected officials, the president did his best to follow up his wife's impassioned and pivotal speech from earlier in the day rebuking Trump's so-called locker room talk. Referring to Republican rhetoric as a “swamp of crazy,” the president said, "If your only agenda is . . . crazy based on lies, based on hoaxes, this is the nominee you get."

The president said, “Don’t act like this started with Donald Trump. . . . He didn’t come out of nowhere.”

While Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign have chosen to depict Trump as a special brand of right-wing crazy separate from the Republican Party, President Obama decided to illustrate exactly how the modern Republican Party spawned such a demagogic nominee.

"The problem is not that all Republicans think the way this guy does," the president told the crowd. "The problem is that they've been riding this tiger for a long time. They've been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years, primarily for political expedience. So if Trump was running around saying I wasn't born here, they were OK with that as long as it helped them with votes. If some of these folks on talk radio talked about how I was the Antichrist, that's just politics."

"They stood by while this happened," Obama went on. "And Donald Trump — as he's prone to do — he didn't build the building himself, he just slapped his name on it and took credit for it. And that's what happened in their party."

Watch the president's rebuke of Republicans below via YouTube:

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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