US president condemns “vulgarity and divisive rhetoric” of Republican race and says it is “tarnishing America’s brand” around the world.
President Barack Obama launched an outspoken attack on Donald Trumplast night, accusing the billionaire of damaging America’s image around the world and scaring the country’s children.
Mr Obama said he was “dismayed by the vicious atmosphere in our politics” and the use of “vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women, minorities and Americans who don’t look like us”.
He said: “This is about the American brand. Why would we want to tarnish that? Who are we? How are we perceived around the world? The world pays attention to what we say and what we do.
“This is not an accurate reflection of America and it has to stop. This corrosive behaviour can undermine our democracy, our society, and even our economy. Too often we’ve accepted this as somehow the new normal. All of us are responsible for reversing it.”
Mr Obama said children should not be “afraid” to go to political rallies, adding: “We should not have to explain to them this darker side of politics.”
His comments, made at an early St Patrick’s Day lunch event in Washington, came as voters in five states – Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri – went to the polls in the races for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.
Opponents of Mr Trump within his own party paid for widely broadcast television advertisement featuring derogatory comments he has made about women, including Princess Diana
An actress read out Mr Trump’s words: “She had the height, she had the beauty. She was crazy, but these are minor details.”
Photo: Getty Images
Mr Trump, the Republican front-runner, has seen his rallies marred by protests and scuffles in recent days.
One of the Republican Party’s most senior figures Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said Mr Trump had an obligation to “provide an atmosphere of harmony, to not incite violence.”
But Mr Trump said he would not be “toning down” his inflammatory language aimed at protesters, illegal immigrants, and Muslims.
At a final rally in Ohio he gave a dramatic reading of The Snake, a 1968 R&B song by Al Wilson.
It tells the story of a woman who cares for an injured snake only to be fatally bitten in return.
Members of the audience, thousands of whom cheered wildly, understood Mr Trump to be using it as a metaphor for the dangers of giving amnesty to illegal immigrants and accepting Syrian refugees.