When it comes to Election 2016, he might be keeping most of his thoughts to himself, but President Obama definitely has some opinions on the presidential primaries, particularly when it comes to the GOP race. On Monday, Obama made fun of Republican candidates' debate complaints by suggesting they weren't equipped to handle real problems — you know, those of the presidential kind that face anyone who sits in the Oval Office. The Republican Party has been thrown into disarray after last week's CNBC showdown, which put GOP presidential wannabes at odds with the media and among themselves.
Obama's sharp dig came during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser after a Broadway showing of Hamilton. The crowd ate it up, cheering as he jabbed at Republicans on their ability to govern.
Have you noticed that every one of these [Republican] candidates say, "Obama's weak. Putin's kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he's going to straighten out." ... And then, it turns out they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators. I mean, let me tell you, if you can't handle those guys, you know then I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you.
Obama also wondered out loud why the GOP continuously blasts his presidency for ruining the apparent "golden age" of Bush's two terms, "when we were going through the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, unemployment and uninsured rates were up, were hopelessly addicted to foreign oil, and bin Laden was still on the loose."
Since last Wednesday's CNBC debacle, Republican have banded together to try to take control over future debates. Republican National Committee Chief Reince Priebus blamed the business network for failing to address serious policy issues (which is debatable) and eventually canceled the RNC's pre-planned debate with parent company NBC set for early next year. Over the weekend, most of the GOP candidates' campaigns met to come up with a sort of an ultimatum for future debates: among other things, no lightning rounds or questions that require them to raise their hands.
But the pow-wow ended up falling apart as candidates found themselves disagreeing on other criteria. For example, lower polling contenders such as Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham want more opportunities to face other candidates. And then hours later, Donald Trump's team announced he would negotiate debate terms with TV execs by himself, without the united front of his competitors.
It's not the first time Obama has spoken up against Republican candidates, however, though his remarks usually come with a more serious tone. In a September speech, the president appeared to bristle at the idea behind Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," arguing that "despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably a part of a presidential campaign, America is winning right now. America is great right now."
Obama also blasted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for suggesting the Iran nuclear deal would "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven." At a July news conference in Africa, Obama said these accusations were "ridiculous" and criticized Republicans for being out of line with their comments. "We've had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate," he said. "We've had a sitting senator, who also happens to be running for president, suggest that I'm the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party."
In the coming months, you'll definitely hear a lot more from Obama as Republicans make a case on why they'd be a better president than him. The bigger question is what he'll say on his own party's race, particularly who he's going to endorse. Now that his right hand man Joe Biden is out of the picture, it seems pretty clear whose name he's going to check in the primary ballot box come March — and her name starts with an "H."