Former President Barack Obama called out President Donald Trump and his supporters very directly and bluntly during a speech he gave on Friday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change,” said Obama from the stage.
“More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep up cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege,” he added.
“And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” the former president continued.
Ahead of the remarks at the 1,300-person auditorium, university spokesperson Jon Davis said there was great interest from the school’s student body.
Davis said the school had received about 22,000 requests for tickets, noted CNN.
Obama also said on Friday, in a direct appeal to the young left-leaning voters sitting in the auditorium or listening: “I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are. Just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen — not as an ex-president — but as a fellow citizen, I’m here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.”
He added, “Now, some of you may think I’m exaggerating when I say this November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime, and I know politicians say that all the time. I have been guilty of saying it a few times, particularly when I was on the ballot. But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”
Obama on Friday went on to imply in the speech that Trump and his supporters do not think Nazis are bad, asking, “We are supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we sure as heck are supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?”
The hosts of “The Five” on Fox News strongly challenged Obama’s criticism of Trump.
Greg Gutfeld’s response was,
“What a contrast in styles … President Obama’s like drinking a dozen piña coladas on the beach. It tastes sweet and it looks like fun, then you throw up all night and remember nothing,” as Mediaite reported.
“The problem with all of his digs — you don’t have to look very hard to find out that he is guilty of every single one of them,” Gutfeld added.
“Trump’s a racist? Please! You’ve been palling around with Farrakhan and Reverend Wright your entire life. Cozying up to Russia? I mean, he was whispering sweet nothings in Putin’s deputy’s ears and said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want after the elections.’ Let Putin run wild. Don’t give me that. He’s saying Trump is abusing the attorney general’s office? It was Obama’s team that spied, that abused FISA, that wiretapped their political enemies. So don’t give me that.”
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