During an interview with New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, President Barack Obama compared Donald Trump to a candidate he faced in 2008 during his first White House bid because they are both indicative of the deeper problems within the GOP.
“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump — the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,” Obama told Jonathan Chait.
Obama didn’t sound very optimistic about a change happening in the GOP without some serious soul searching.
“Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election, but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party,” Obama said. “There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.”
Obama has admitted to getting along with several Republicans, but conservative media pushes a philosophy purity that makes it difficult to compromise.
“We can have really great conversations and arrive at a meeting of the minds on a range of policy issues, but if they think they’re going to lose seats or that they’re going to lose their own seat because the social media has declared that they sold out the Republican Party, then they won’t do it,” he said.
Obama referred to incidents when two Republicans were punished for being too friendly with him.
“They’re looking at Charlie Crist down in Florida,” he said. “One hug [from me] and he was toast. Chris Christie couldn’t get his presidential race launched — it was basically over before it started — because he was too friendly and cooperative with me in accepting federal aid for a state that had been devastated by a hurricane.”
“They’re imagining the potential problems that arise, so it’s pretty hard for them to publicly say, ‘Obama’s a perfectly reasonable guy, but we just can’t work with him because our base thinks he’s the Antichrist,’” Obama continued. “It’s a lot easier for them to say, ‘Oh, the guy’s not listening to us,’ or, ‘He’s uncompromising.’”
“Sometimes I tease them about it behind the scenes,” he said. “I’ll tell them, ‘Look, if you need some help, me attacking you or you know.’ And the times where we have gotten things done, it has been very important for me to, frankly, help them try to manage their base.”