Former Presidents Obama and Bush appear to rebuke Trump at separate events

NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBS) — Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are offering sharp criticism of the current political climate. Neither mentioned President Trump during separate and unrelated appearances Thursday, but both men appeared to rebuke him.

“Folks don’t feel good right now about what they see,” Mr. Obama said at a campaign event in Virginia.

It is common practice for former presidents to hold back criticism of the person currently holding office. Mr. Obama didn’t name names – he didn’t have to, reports CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman.

“We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage,” Mr. Obama said.

Earlier in New Jersey, Mr. Obama said Americans were confronting the same politics of division that date back centuries.

“We thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back,” Mr. Obama said.

Also Thursday, appearing before a packed room in New York, Mr. Bush said America has to “recover our own identity.”

“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together,” Mr. Bush said.

He warned that the current discourse was undermining American democracy.

“Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” Mr. Bush said, adding, “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism… People of every race, religion, ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

When asked if Mr. Bush’s speech was aimed at Mr. Trump, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said the speech was long-planned and the former president spoke about themes he has spoken about for the last two decades.

As he left the hall, Mr. Bush was reportedly asked if he thought his message would be heard in the White House. According to the New York Times, he smiled and said, “I think it will.”

 

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