New York Times
By Michael Shear
August 2, 2016
In his strongest denunciation of Donald J. Trump so far, President Obama on Tuesday said Mr. Trump was “unfit to serve as president” and urged the leaders of the Republican Party to withdraw their backing for his candidacy.
Mr. Obama said the Republican criticisms of Mr. Trump “ring hollow” if the party’s leaders continue to support his bid for the presidency this fall, particularly in light of Republican criticisms of Mr. Trump for his attacks on the Muslim parents of an American soldier, Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq.
“The question they have to ask themselves is: If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the White House.
Mr. Obama said that in addition to Mr. Trump’s comments about the Khan family, the Republican nominee had demonstrated that he was “woefully unprepared to do this job.” The president said Mr. Trump lacked knowledge about Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily,” Mr. Obama added. “There has to be a point at which you say, this is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party. The fact that that has not yet happened makes some of these denunciations ring hollow.”
Mr. Obama’s comments came as he stood next to Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, in the East Room of the White House. The president is hosting a state dinner Tuesday evening to highlight 50 years of cooperation in Asia between the two countries.
That setting stood in sharp contrast to Mr. Trump, who was delivering a campaign speech in a rally at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Va., at the same time that Mr. Obama made his remarks.
Mr. Trump unleashed his usual list of grievances, questioning Hillary Clinton’s ability to serve as president and calling her a “thief” who should not be allowed to serve in the Oval Office.
“She’s got a bad temperament,” he told a packed auditorium. “She’s got the temperament of a loser.”
And even as Mr. Obama discussed trade policy and security issues with the Singaporean prime minister, Mr. Trump lashed out at world leaders. He said he would ask Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, “what went wrong” in her country. And he criticized Mrs. Clinton for what he called “terrible relations” with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
While there was no immediate reaction to Mr. Obama’s comments from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan or Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, one Republican House member had already taken the president’s advice earlier on Tuesday.
Representative Richard Hanna, Republican of New York, said Tuesday morning that he plans to vote for Mrs. Clinton, calling Mr. Trump “unfit to serve” as the nation’s president and commander in chief.
Mr. Hanna, who is retiring at the end of his term in January, has said before that he could not support Mr. Trump’s candidacy. But his willingness to endorse Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, sends a dramatic message to his colleagues in the Republican Party.
He announced his decision in an interview and in a column that he posted on Syracuse.com. In both, he said he came to his decision to support Mrs. Clinton in part because of Mr. Trump’s comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the fallen American soldier.
“I was stunned by the callousness of his comments,” Mr. Hanna said. “I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?”
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