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Trump's love-hate relationship with Obama goes back years

US President's love-hate relationship with predecessor goes back years

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's love-hate attitude towards predecessor Barack Obama goes back a decade, a volatile mixture of admiration and disrespect that helped launch the provocative businesman's political career.

Mr Trump was the main purveyor of the "birther" conspiracy theory that the nation's first African-American president was not born in the US.

He took pains to praise him after November's election, declaring last month that Mr Obama "likes me" and "I like him."

But Mr Trump's explosive and unsubstantiated charge this weekend that Mr Obama tapped his phones marked a return to the belligerence of recent years.

Mr Trump's up-and-down treatment of Mr Obama goes back to 2006, when the real estate tycoon was rising as a reality television star.

That December he told The New York Times that it was "not a good sign" that Mr Obama, then a US senator, was involved in a shady deal with a controversial Chicago businessman.

"But he's got some wonderful qualities," Mr Trump said of the former president.

The positive reviews continued after Mr Obama won the 2008 election. But by April 2009, Mr Trump was voicing concern about health care spending, inflation and taxes. One year later, he was wavering on Obamacare, telling CNN "I'm really torn."

Mr Trump then became the chief proponent of the "birther" conspiracy theory.

He has personal reactions to almost everyone and everything. If he feels he has been treated unfairly, he really strikes back. Ohio State University political science professor Paul Beck

"Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?" Mr Trump asked on ABC's "The View" show on March 23, 2011.

The Obama White House indeed produced the birth certificate a few weeks later - and the president went on to skewer Mr Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner that April.

Mr Trump felt "attacked and embarrassed" by Mr Obama's jibes, Ohio State University political science professor Paul Beck said.

"He has personal reactions to almost everyone and everything. If he feels he has been treated unfairly, he really strikes back."

Last year, with Mr Trump getting the Republican nomination, Mr Obama revved up his attacks on the candidate.

Mr Trump "doesn't appear to have basic knowledge around critical issues in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, (which) means that he's woefully unprepared to do this job," Mr Obama said on Aug 2.

Yet, two days after his widely unexpected victory, Mr Trump met Mr Obama and described the outgoing president as "a very good man," saying it was a "great honour" to meet him at the White House.

Mr Trump's flip-flops fit his personality, Prof Beck said.

When Mr Obama treated him with respect and formality, "Trump was kind of smitten by that," Prof Beck said, noting that Mr Trump was quick to curry favour with someone "if he thought it was in his interest".- AFP

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