President Barack Obama lamented "the rancor and suspicion between the parties" during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, then proceeded to take a number of veiled potshots at Republicans.
NBC reporter Chuck Todd said
there were "at least seven references I found that were rebuttals to Trump's statements." He also noted that Obama made at least one reference to Cruz, as well as a "reference to Chris Christie's slogan."
"It was definitely a dig," Todd added.
Gathered below are nine partisan attacks Obama snuck into his final State of the Union speech as president.
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1. Obama said we shouldn't scapegoat fellow citizens, then blamed his fellow citizen Trump
— "As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background," Obama said during his speech, creating a straw man of Trump's border security, immigration, and refugee proposals. "We can't afford to go down that path. It won't deliver the economy we want. It will not produce the security we want. But most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world."
2. Obama attacks Cruz
— "Trump wasn’t the only Republican candidate to draw the president’s repudiation," Vanity Fair reported
after Obama's speech. The president said: "The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians." The remark apparently referenced Sen. Ted Cruz’s past rhetoric on the Middle East. "That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage," Obama continued.
3. Obama goes after Christie
— Obama seemed to be criticizing Trump's proposal to temporarily ban foreign Muslims until ISIS is defeated, as well as Christie's campaign slogan — "Telling It Like It Is" — when he said, "When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country."
4. Immigration and wages
— According to CNN Money
, Trump "has said that his tough stance on immigration would make it easier for poor and working class Americans to earn a middle-class wage." Obama seemed to be responding to Trump's assertion Tuesday when he said, "Immigrants aren't the principal reason wages haven't gone up." Instead of discussing the supply and demand of the labor market, Obama then went on to blame job creators: "Those decisions are made in the boardrooms that all too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns."
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5. Political correctness
— During his speech, "Obama mentioned only one religious group: Muslims, to whom Trump is promising to ban entry," noted the Toronto Star
. "We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion," Obama said during his speech, seeming to call out Trump. "This isn't a matter of political correctness. This is a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal, it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith."
6. American strength
— Obama seemed to take issue with Trump's repeated assertions that the nation has grown weak under the Democrats. Trump titled his latest book "Crippled America," and his campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," implies that it currently isn't. In response, Obama proclaimed, "I told you earlier all the talk of America's economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth, period. Period."
7. World War III
— "As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands," Obama said Tuesday night. The sound bite seems to have been directed at Chris Christie, who said
last month that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "the one who's got us into the World War III situation, with Barack Obama."
8. The economy
— "Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction," Obama said during his speech, seeming to take issue with many Republican presidential candidates, including Trump. In a previous interview with Time magazine
, Trump noted that the workforce participation rate — a key economic indicator — is at a historic low, saying, "You have 90 million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact. If you start adding it up, our real unemployment rate is 42 percent."
9. "Boots on the Ground" in Iraq
— Obama said that America "can't try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis, even if it's done with the best of intentions. That's not leadership; that's a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately will weaken us. It's the lesson of Vietnam. It's the lesson of Iraq, and we should have learned it by now." The statement seemed to rebut recent calls from Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham
— and even Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein — to consider a troop surge to fight ISIS, much like the successful troop surge of 2007.
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