President Barack Obama blasted the Republican presidential field during a press conference Tuesday afternoon, calling out the candidates on everything from climate change to immigration.
Obama, following two days of negotiations at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in California, was asked by NBC News’ Ron Allen about how foreign leaders at the event had reacted to GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
“I think foreign observers are troubled by some of the rhetoric that’s been taking place in these Republican primaries and Republican debates,” Obama responded. But he added that the feeling wasn’t confined to Trump’s comments. “He may up the ante in anti-Muslim sentiment,” said the president, “but if you look at what the other Republicans have said, that’s pretty troubling, too.”
Obama then criticized the candidates’ positions on immigration (watch above), before turning to global warming. “They’re all denying climate change,” he said. “I think that’s troubling to the international community, since the science is unequivocal … The other countries around the world, they kind of count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense, because they know that if the United States does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will.”
“This is not just Mr. Trump,” Obama continued. “There’s not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it’s serious.”
Obama got that right. Trump has called climate change a “hoax.” Ted Cruz recently called it a “pseudoscientific theory.” Marco Rubio told ABC, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” adding that he rejects the idea that “somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.” Jeb Bush thinks it’s “really arrogant” to say the science of climate change has been settled. Even John Kasich said in September: “I don’t believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change.” In December, Kasich criticized the very existence of the Paris climate conference, arguing that the world leaders in attendance should have been focusing on ISIS instead. And while Ben Carson seems to be a big fan of renewable energy, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused.”
“The rest of the world looks at that,” the president said, “and they say, ‘How can that be?'” Still, he added, “I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president, and the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people.” The voters, he said, will realize that “whoever’s standing where I’m standing right now has the nuclear codes with them, and can order 21-year-olds into a firefight, and has to make sure that the banking system doesn’t collapse.”
“The American people are pretty sensible,” Obama concluded, “and I think they’ll make a sensible choice in the end.”