President Barack Obama said the tape of Donald Trump making lewd and sexually aggressive comments was “not right” during his first public statement since its release on Friday.
“You don’t have to be a husband or a father to hear what we heard just a few days ago and say, ‘that’s not right.’ You just have to be a decent human being to say that’s not right,” he said during a campaign event in North Carolina. “And if it makes you mad … you can do something about it North Carolina!”
Obama reiterated the reasons why he doesn’t think Donald Trump is fit to be president of the United States.
“It was true when we heard what he thought about minorities … Muslims … made fun of disabled persons or insulted gold star families,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump’s sexually aggressive boasts a decade ago were “repugnant.”
The caught-on-tape remarks, which have thrown the Republican Party into tumult, amounted to an endorsement of criminal behavior, Earnest said.
“The President found the tape as repugnant as most Americans did,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to a campaign stop in North Carolina. “I think there’s been a pretty clear statement by people all along the ideological spectrum that those statements constituted sexual assault.”
“That’s an observation that we’ve heard from a wide variety of sources,” he said. “That’s why many people have concluded those statements are worthy of sharp condemnation.”
On Friday, audio of Trump discussing women in lewd and sexually aggressive terms during off-camera banter at a taping of a segment for “Access Hollywood,” was obtained and reported by The Washington Post. The fallout was fast and severe: several prominent Republicans dropped their endorsements of Trump, and many called on the candidate to withdraw from the race entirely.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would no longer defend Trump going forward, and would instead devote his attention to maintaining Republican control of Congress in November.
But other, more conservative lawmakers said Ryan was making a mistake, and essentially handing the White House to Clinton. And Trump himself has remained defiant, declaring he would proceed without the backing from the establishment and without the constraints of a traditional presidential nominee.
The divide has caused deep consternation among Republican officials, but Earnest said Tuesday the current circumstances were predictable.
“You reap what you sow, and for seven and a half years Republicans in Washington have been selling anti-Obama rhetoric to the exclusion of facts, to the exclusion of any sort of governing agenda, and even to the exclusion of conservative doctrine. And that’s why Republican leaders in Washington find themselves in the situation they’re in now,” Earnest said.
Obama, he continued, was resisting complacency, despite the GOP stumbles.
“That would explain why the president’s doing a campaign event in Greensboro tonight,” he said. “The president is energized by this campaign.”
Obama is going to visually ramp up his campaign activity in the month left before Election Day, Earnest said.