President Barack Obama attributes the rise of Donald Trump to his ability to “appeal to a certain group of folks who feel left out,” economically and culturally.
Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Sunday, Obama was asked about the heritage of his mother, Ann Dunham, who was born in Wichita, Kansas.
“I’m wondering what you make of it because, you know, you’ve written in the past that the Kansas side of your family is white working class, Scotch-Irish,” Zakaria said. “These are the people who support Trump. These are the people who seem to have the most suspicion about you.”
The President pointed to the country’s “long tradition of inclusion” as well as its historical suspicion of “outsiders” in his response.
“That’s not new. That dates back to, you know, the beginning of this country,” Obama said.
“Although you’ll see bumps, whether it’s anti-immigrant sentiment directed at the Irish, or Southern Europeans as opposed to Northern Europeans, or the Chinese, or today, Latinos or Muslims, the long-term trend is people get absorbed, people get assimilated, and we benefit from this incredible country in which the measure of your patriotism and how American you are is not the color of your skin, your last name, your faith, but rather your adherence to a creed, your belief in certain principles and values,” Obama said.
He added: “I don’t expect that that’s going to change simply because Mr. Trump has gotten a little more attention than usual.”
Trump, Obama said, has “been able to appeal to a certain group of folks who feel left out or are worried about the rapidity of demographic change, social change, who, in some cases, have very legitimate concerns around the economy and are feeling left behind.”
But the President maintained that these people do not make up “the majority of America.”
“If you talk to younger people, the next generation of Americans, they completely reject the kinds of positions that he’s taking,” he insisted.