Obama Makes Case Against Donald Trump, Saying Presidency ‘Is Not a Reality Show’


WASHINGTON — President Obama implored journalists on Friday to subject Donald J. Trump’s statements and proposals to intense scrutiny now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, saying the 2016 White House campaign should not be treated like a political carnival.

“We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Mr. Obama said after being asked about Mr. Trump at a news conference. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. Every candidate, every nominee, needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny.”

And he said Republican voters must now confront the choice they made in the primaries.

“Their standard-bearer at the moment is Donald Trump,” Mr. Obama said. “Republican voters are going to have to make a decision about whether this is the guy who speaks for them and represents their values.”

In particular, he added, “Republican women, voters, are going to have to decide, ‘Is that the guy I feel comfortable with representing me and what I care about?’ ”

Taking questions from reporters at the White House for the first time since Mr. Trump became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee on Tuesday, the president said he was concerned that coverage of Mr. Trump and other candidates had emphasized “the spectacle and the circus” instead of the serious issues at stake for the country.

The comments were a preview of what aides say will be a vigorous presence by Mr. Obama in the general election campaign. Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama have a tense history that includes Mr. Trump’s decision to lead the “birther” movement that questioned where the president was born.

On Friday, Mr. Obama’s comments about Mr. Trump were restrained in tone. But he made it clear he believed that Mr. Trump’s proposals and statements would not hold up to scrutiny.

“He has a long record that needs to be examined,” he said, adding that candidates who said things that could “threaten war” or had the “potential for upending our critical relationships with other countries” needed to be critically examined.

Asked a moment later about Mr. Trump’s Twitter post on Thursday of himself eating a taco bowl, Mr. Obama seemed amused.

“I have no thoughts on Mr. Trump’s tweets,” he said. “As a general rule, I don’t pay attention to Mr. Trump’s tweets.”

Mr. Obama also said he was pleased that the United States economy had added 160,000 jobs in April, though he cautioned that “the global economy, as many people here are aware, is not growing as fast as it should be.”

He said his administration was taking actions to crack down on tax evasion like the kind exposed by the so-called Panama Papers. He said the new rules would help regulators track the flow of money by requiring banking institutions to report the real names of people who open accounts.

But he called on Congress to broaden those efforts through legislation, saying, “We’re not going to be able to complete this job unless Congress acts as well.”

At a news conference on Friday, President Obama addressed the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. “We are in serious times and this is a really serious job,” he said. “This is not entertainment.”
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