- The Washington Times - Friday, April 29, 2016

President Barack Obama is strangely obsessed with businessman Donald Trump.

He’s managed to squeeze zingers at the businessman while dealing with world leaders at business conferences and nuclear summits, and when asked at his bully pulpit in Washington about the real-estate mogul, Mr. Obama or his press corps never shy away.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump gave his first foreign policy speech in Washington, read from a teleprompter. He stumbled in his pronunciation of “Tanzania” during it, but continued on, unfazed.

In a White House press briefing after the speech, Press Secretary Josh Earnest mocked Mr. Trump’s ability, saying to reporters: “Apparently the phonetics are not included on the teleprompter.”

It was a low blow — and one Mr. Obama and his team should be careful of, given Mr. Obama’s own lack of perfection in this area. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Obama fumbled “corpsman” pronouncing it as “corpse-man.”

He’s been since forgiven.

The White House seemingly can’t resist taking shots at Mr. Trump. Past presidents have consciously decided to stay out of the other party’s primary process, but not Mr. Obama. Mr. Trump seems to have gotten under his skin — and has stayed there.

In September, at a Business Roundtable event, the president took a veiled blow at the businessman: “America is great right now. America is winning right now.”

Then in February, as Mr. Trump was maintaining his lead in the polls, Mr. Obama concluded the American public was “too sensible” to elect Mr. Trump.

“I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in California after a meeting with southeast Asian leaders. “And the reason is that I have a lot of faith in the American people. Being president is a serious job. It’s not hosting a talk show, or a reality show.”


But at the event, he continued to rub it in: “It’s not promotion, it’s not marketing. It’s hard,” Mr. Obama said of being president. “And a lot of people count on us getting it right.”

In March, during a Democratic National Committee event, the President couldn’t resist calling Mr. Trump out again — unprompted.

“We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” he joked.

“How can you be shocked?” he asked to laughter from the crowd, according to a transcript. “This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya — who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot, wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.”

At a Nuclear Arms Summit in April, Mr. Trump’s name came up — again.

Mr. Obama took a hit on his stance Japan and North Korea should have access to nuclear weapons.

“[The statements] tell us that the person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy, nuclear policy, the Korean peninsula or the world generally,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference following the two-day Nuclear Security Summit.

A few days later, at his podium, Mr. Obama called Mr. Trump’s ideas half-baked.

“This is just one more example of something that is not thought through and is primarily put forward for political consumption,” Mr. Obama said regarding Mr. Trump’s idea to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

“I’ve tried to emphasize throughout [that] we’ve got serious problems here. We’ve got big issues around the world. People expect the president of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously, to put forward policies that have been examined, analyzed, are effective, where unintended consequences are taken into account,” Mr. Obama said April 5.

Then a few weeks later, at a fundraiser, the president had to mention the business mogul again, this time confronting others’ “deep obsession” of Mr. Trump, but not his own.

“I recognize that there is a deep obsession right now about Mr. Trump. And one of you pulled me aside and squeezed me hard and said, ‘Tell me … that Mr. Trump is not succeeding you!’ And I said, ‘Mr. Trump’s not succeeding me,’” the president reportedly said at the event.

If you’re so confident about that, Mr. Obama, then why so much talk about Mr. Trump?

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