World

Obama, Bush speak out against deep divisions

Former US presidents deliver stinging rebukes of Trump

RICHMOND: Two former presidents have come out swinging against US President Donald Trump.

Mr Barack Obama railed against divisive politics, while Mr George W. Bush hit out against bullying and prejudice.

Mr Obama, a Democrat, came out strongly against the "politics of division" after keeping a low profile and avoiding direct confrontation with his Republican White House successor since leaving office.

Speaking at a rally in Newark, New Jersey, to support Democratic Party candidate Phil Murphy for governor, Mr Obama, 56, took aim at the fear and bitterness that marked last year's campaign, which led to Mr Trump's presidency.

"What we cannot have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before, that dates back centuries," Mr Obama said.

"Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That is folks looking 50 years back. It is the 21st century, not the 19th century."

If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you are not going to be able to govern them.You will not be able to unite them later' 44th US president Barack Obama

He later appeared at an event in Richmond to support Mr Ralph Northam, his party's gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, and he obliquely criticised the way Mr Trump won.

"If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you are not going to be able to govern them. You will not be able to unite them later," he said.

Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will decide on Nov 7. The races are potential indicators of voter sentiment ahead of next year's mid-term elections.

Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry... 43rd US president George W. Bush

Meanwhile, Mr Bush on Thursday decried "bullying and prejudice" in a speech that appeared to be a sweeping, thinly veiled critique of Mr Trump.

Mr Bush, 71, used a rare public address in New York to discuss nationalism, racial divisions and Russia's intervention in the presidential election - all flashpoints of his fellow Republican's nine-month White House tenure - but did not mention Mr Trump by name.

"Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them," Mr Bush said.

Mr Trump has used nicknames to demean opponents, such as "Crooked Hillary" for Democrat Hillary Clinton, and, more recently, "Liddle" Bob Corker for a Republican senator who dared to challenge him.

Mr Bush, president from 2001 to 2009, emphasised the importance of immigration and international trade, two areas Mr Trump has cracked down on.

"We have seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America," Mr Bush said.- WIRE SERVICES

Barack Obamaelectionpolitics