- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2015

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is exploiting anger and frustration among blue-collar workers who are falling behind in the new economy, President Obama said Monday.

In an interview with NPR, the president said Mr. Trump’s campaign is benefiting from frustration among Republicans, particularly male voters who are reacting to an increasingly multicultural society. He told reporter Steve Inskeep that “demographic change,” flat wages and the influence of technology have resulted in many blue-collar men being unable to support their families on a single paycheck.

“You combine those things, and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear,” Mr. Obama said. “Some of it justified but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That’s what he’s exploiting during the course of his campaign.”

The president’s analysis was reminiscent of his comments in 2008, when he blamed economically disadvantaged voters who were “bitter” and “cling to guns or religion” for his poor showing among small-town Pennsylvanians in the Democratic primary.

In the interview with NPR, Mr. Obama said blue-collar male factory workers “have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they are no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck.”

The president and his family arrived in Hawaii Saturday for the start of their annual two-week holiday vacation, while much of the country is on edge over the threat of Islamist terrorism. Asked by Mr. Inskeep what advice he would give to his successor about the Islamic State, Mr. Obama said “it is important not just to shoot but to aim.”

“And it is important in this seat to make sure that you are making your best judgments based on data, intelligence, the information that’s coming from your commanders and folks on the ground, and you’re not being swayed by politics,” Mr. Obama said.

The Pentagon is conducting an investigation into whether the president’s intelligence reports on the Islamic State have been manipulated to give him a more positive assessment of the threat than the facts on the ground in Syria and Iraq would indicate.

Turning to the climate change deal he helped to negotiate this month, Mr. Obama said the Republican Party is “perhaps literally the only major party in the developed world that is still engaging in climate denial.”

“Even far-right parties in other places acknowledge that the science shows that temperatures are going up and that that is a really dangerous thing we’ve got to do something about,” he said.

The nonbinding pact calls on nations to reduce carbon emissions, and Mr. Obama said the deal “was an example of American leadership at its best.”

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