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Obama Swipes At Trump, Says Coronavirus Crisis Calls For 'Basic Competence'


Former President Barack Obama took a not-so-subtle dig at President Donald Trump this week.

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During an interview on the left-leaning "Pod Save America," -- a podcast hosted by several former people who previously worked in his administration -- Obama critiqued Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that “basic competence” among U.S. leaders can save lives.

“You might not have been happy with everything I did, all my policy choices,” Obama said.

“I didn’t eliminate poverty in America," he continued. "But when we had a pandemic or the threat of a pandemic, we had competent people in place who would deal with it.”

Obama, who is preparing to head back to the campaign trail on behalf of his former vice president, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, with just weeks remaining until the Nov. 3 election, also compared Trump and Biden’s approaches to foreign policy, claiming Trump has never had the “patience” or “focus” to substantially affect international relations.

“Even our enemies can expect us to behave like adults on the international stage,” Obama said. “Over the last four years, it’s not as if Trump has been all that active internationally. I mean, the truth is he doesn’t have the patience and the focus to really substantially change a lot of U.S. foreign policy. What he’s done is, he’s systematically tried to decimate our entire foreign policy infrastructure.”

Conversely, he said, Biden has always had a “respect” for the power of global leadership.

“He consistently believed that we should show restraint and humility and think through the use of military power and had huge confidence and faith in the use of diplomacy as a strategy for showing American leadership,” Obama said. “And that instinct that I think is going to trickle out, partly because he’s gonna have to rebuild a State Department where some of the best people have been driven out systematically because they weren’t willing to toe Trump’s ideological agenda.”

Obama also reflected on his own presidency and his relationship with the former vice president.

“He was always the guy in every meeting who asked ‘How’s this helping regular folks?’” Obama said, adding that everything about Biden being just a regular guy from Scranton, Pa., who used to ride the Amtrak train to Washington every day while representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate -- and “identifying with the ordinary day-to-day struggles of the American people" -- isn't "schtick, you know. That’s who he is.”

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Speaking to voters who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary, Obama said the first priority for Democrats is to win but said they should continue to “press their agenda.”

“As soon if we are fortunate enough that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected, we maintain the House and hopefully we regain the Senate,” he said. “One of the very first things we have to do is to get every person who is as fired up as they were about this election to understand the midterms are going to matter just as much.”

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