World

Obama slams Trump as unfit for job, says US democracy at risk

Ex-President criticises incumbent for using the office to get attention and for personal gain

UNITED STATES: Former US President Barack Obama on Wednesday assailed his successor, Mr Donald Trump, as deeply unfit for the office he occupies and argued that voting for his former No 2, Mr Joe Biden, was necessary to ensure the survival of American democracy.

"He's shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves," Mr Obama said of Mr Trump during the third night of the Democratic National Convention.

After avoiding direct criticism for most of Mr Trump's first term, the scathing broadsides from Mr Obama constituted an unusually harsh appraisal of one president by another - although Mr Trump has rarely hesitated to attack Mr Obama, often levelling accusations of misconduct without evidence.

Mr Obama blamed Mr Trump for the 170,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, the millions of jobs lost to the ensuing recession and the diminishment of the country's democratic principles at home and abroad.

His assertion that Mr Trump, a Republican, is incapable of meeting the demands of the presidency echoed the remarks from his wife, Mrs Michelle Obama, on Monday, that Mr Trump "simply cannot be who we need him to be".

"Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't," Mr Obama said. "And the consequences of that failure are severe."

Mr Trump hit out at Mr Obama prior to his speech. He told reporters Mr Obama was an "ineffective" and "terrible" leader.

"I see the horror that he's left us, the stupidity of the transactions that he made.

"President Obama did not do a good job. The reason I'm here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden."

Mr Biden, 77, was formally nominated on Tuesday night to take on Mr Trump, 74, in the Nov 3 presidential election. Mr Obama, 59, was unsparing in his praise for his former Vice-President, saying Mr Biden became a "brother" to him.

"For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision," he said. "He made me a better president - and he's got the character and the experience to make us a better country."

SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY

Mr Obama's address to the virtual convention was delivered from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, the city where the US Constitution and the country's founding democratic principles were drafted.

"The one constitutional office elected by all of the people is the presidency," he said. "So at a minimum, we should expect a president to feel a sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of all 330 million of us ... But we should also expect a president to be the custodian of this democracy."

Mr Trump, he said, had failed those tests.

An emotional Mr Obama urged Americans to vote, warning that Mr Trump and his Republican allies can win only by suppressing and undermining votes, rather than on the merits of their policies. - REUTERS , AFP

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