Former President Obama took aim at President Donald Trump’s base during a private phone call Tuesday with Democratic donors, and reportedly even alluded to Nazi Germany when he claimed Trump is consciously tapping into their fears and redirecting them “in nativist, racist, sexist ways.”
According to The New York Times, people who took notes of Obama’s comments during a Zoom call with actor George Clooney, Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and high-paying donors maintain that the former president also claimed that the idea of voter suppression influencing the 2020 presidential election keeps him up at night. The Zoom call on Tuesday sold out of tickets ranging from $250 to $250,000.
Regarding Trump’s base, Obama said, “It’s just glued to Fox News and Breitbart and Limbaugh and just this conservative echo chamber — and so, they’re going to turn out to vote. What he has unleashed and what he continues to try to tap into is the fears and anger and resentment of people who, in some cases, really are having a tough time and have seen their prospects, or communities where they left, declining. And Trump tries to tap into that and redirect in nativist, racist, sexist ways.”
Obama also appeared to obliquely reference the Third Reich to warn where such “darker impulses” might propel the nation if left unchecked. “The endpoint of that we saw in Europe 60 years ago, 70 years ago — what happens when those things get unleashed,” he said. “You don’t nip that in the bud, bad things can happen. Among the most quote unquote civilized societies.”
Obama also claimed Trump’s continual reference to COVID-19 as “kung flu” or “the China virus” is stoking anti-Asian sentiment. “That still shocks and pisses me off,” he said of such terms. “We already saw this guy win once. After he bragged about physically assaulting women — and that didn’t seem to matter. So, enough said. Let’s get to work.”
Obama’s office did not deny to The New York Times that he said such things, but declined to offer further comment.
Obama also made headlines this week for what some described as a partisan eulogy for late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), in which he hit at Trump without naming him for allegedly suppressing the minority vote. “Even as we sit here, ” Obama said, “there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision – even undermining the postal service in the run up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
Obama also likened federal officers quelling violent protests to the police who enforced segregation in the Deep South during the 1960s. “George Wallace may be gone,” Obama said, “but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
Former Pres. Obama:
"There are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting … attacking our voting rights … even undermining the postal service in run-up to an election that's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick!” pic.twitter.com/onKmkIXWau
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 30, 2020
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