Former President Obama criticized President Trump in a highly anticipated speech on Friday for capitalizing on racial and economic resentments that he said had been fanned for years by politicians, stepping off the political sidelines and offering a rare criticism of the sitting president by name.
“It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said of current political tensions during a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“He’s just capitalizing on resentments politicians have been fanning for years,” he continued. “A fear, an anger that’s rooted in our past, but it’s also born of the upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
While Obama has occasionally delivered veiled criticisms of his successor since leaving office, he refrained for more than a year from taking on Trump by name.
Obama’s speech on Friday called for a re-examination of American values and ideals.