- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

With Donald Trump vowing to scrub America’s foreign aid budget, President Obama promised Wednesday that the U.S. would maintain its spending on developing countries long after he leaves office.

“The United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid,” Mr. Obama said. “And it will remain so, I’m confident, in the next administration.”

Speaking at a summit on global development at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, Mr. Obama said the roughly $35 billion in annual U.S. foreign aid is not charity.

Although he is campaigning for his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the president expanded his promise to include both candidates.

“I may only have six months left in office, but I’m here to say that whoever the next president is, development has to remain a fundamental pillar of American foreign policy,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re here to keep the momentum going.”

Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has said he will likely cut U.S. aid to some nations.

“We have many, many countries that we give a lot of money to, and we get absolutely nothing in return,” Mr. Trump said in May. “That’s going to stop fast” in a Trump administration.

Reflecting on recent terrorist attacks at home and abroad, and on police shootings in the U.S., Mr. Obama said it has been “a tough couple of weeks … that’s being amplified to some degree during political season.”

He asked his audience of international aid officials and others to focus on “how lucky we are to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history.”

“That’s hard to absorb if we’re watching the newscasts every night because there’s heartbreak and terrible things taking place at any given moment across the globe,” Mr. Obama said.

While Mr. Obama was making policy promises about Mrs. Clinton, however, the White House said Wednesday that the presumptive Democratic nominee “will be her own president” if elected in November.

After listing nearly a dozen liberal agenda items such as climate change and Obamacare on which Mrs. Clinton’s views “overlap” with Mr. Obama’s, White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that the media have highlighted some of her policies that differ from those of her former boss.

“That’s natural,” Mr. Earnest said. “She’s somebody with her own views, her own perspectives, and there may be some places where there’s a different view. She’s going to be her own president if, in fact, she’s elected.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin told the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night that “Hillary Clinton is a third Obama term.”

Mr. Earnest said the president believes in the value of “fresh legs and a new perspective in the Oval Office after the last eight years.”

“The president’s interested in that fresh perspective and those fresh legs being a part of someone who’s committed to building on all the important progress that we’ve made over the last seven years,” he said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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