ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Insisting that Americans deserve better, President Barack Obama chided Republicans Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on Monday for a series of campaign-trail attacks that he said would be “ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”
In some of his first commentary on the budding race to replace him, Obama accused the candidates of violating a time-honored American tradition of not playing “fast and loose” on topics of grave concern like foreign policy. He said regardless of which party wins the White House, he wants to ensure he’s turning over the keys to someone capable of seriousness, decorum and honesty.
“We have robust debates, we look at the facts,” Obama said during a news conference in Ethiopia.
“We just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn’t help inform the American people.”
A day earlier, former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee likened the nuclear deal that Obama and world leaders struck with Iran to “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” a Holocaust reference that drew immediate condemnation from Democrats.
Obama suggested the tough rhetoric was a ploy by Huckabee to “get attention” or to push Trump out of the headlines.
Trump, whose poll numbers are on the rise, has emerged as a growing source of concern in the Republican Party because of his provocative comments about immigrants and his GOP rivals, which some Republicans say could hurt the party’s prospects in 2016.
Obama also singled out Cruz, the Texas senator, for suggesting in the wake of the nuclear deal that Obama – not Iran – is the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
“These are leaders in the Republican Party,” Obama said incredulously.