Obama criticises Hispanic voters who picked Trump

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Former President Barack Obama questions Hispanic votes for Donald Trump
Former President Barack Obama questions Hispanic votes for Donald Trump

Barack Obama has taken a swipe at Hispanic voters who chose Donald Trump, accusing them of ignoring the US president’s “racist” comments.

The ex-US president argued some overlooked Mr Trump’s rhetoric because they supported his anti-abortion stance.

Mr Obama also criticised undocumented migrants being held in “cages”, a practice that began in his presidency.

Exit polls show Mr Trump won a larger percentage of Hispanics than in 2016.

Deal of the day

The Republican president garnered about 32% of the demographic in 2020, up from 28% four years ago.

What did Obama say?

In Wednesday’s interview with the Breakfast Club, a podcast, Mr Obama said: “People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump.

“But there are a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, you know, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts detainees, undocumented workers in cages, they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion.”

Mr Obama also told hosts Charlamagne tha God, DJ Envy and Angela Yee that Mr Trump’s Republican party had encouraged white men to see themselves as victims.

“You’ve seen created, in Republican politics, this sense that white males are victims,” he said.

“They’re the ones who are like under attack. Which obviously doesn’t jibe with both history and data and economics.”

Mr Obama was appearing on the podcast to tout his new book, A Promised Land, which has sold 1.7 million copies in North America in its first week.

What’s the background?

It is not clear what Mr Obama was specifically referring to in his remark about gay marriage. A week after being elected in 2016, Mr Trump said he was “fine with” the US Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex unions, though he told CNN a year earlier he was for “traditional marriage”.

Mr Obama first ran for the presidency in 2008 opposed to gay marriage, before saying in 2012 that he was in favour.

In this month’s presidential election, Mr Trump won 28% of the LGBT vote, the highest percentage for any Republican presidential nominee since George W Bush in 2000.

Mr Obama’s mention of “cages” refers to border facilities where hundreds of children separated from adults at the US-Mexico border were held in 2018 under a Trump administration policy that was tougher than anything that had come before.

But these chain-link enclosures were built during the Obama presidency. Some 60,000 unaccompanied minors stopped at the southern border were detained in these cells during one summer alone in 2014.

The Obama administration also separated migrant children from adults at the border, though only in rare circumstances.

Mr Trump has long been criticised for his 2015 campaign launch when he said of undocumented migrants from Mexico: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

What’s the reaction?

Republican pollster Frank Luntz tweeted of Mr Obama’s comments: “This is lazy analysis which likely will become the conventional wisdom of his followers: ‘People who don’t support us are bigots.'”

Steve Cortes, a Trump 2020 campaign adviser, said Mr Obama had insulted Latinos.

The Hispanic political strategist tweeted: “As important as life issues are, the economic factors drove most working-class voters to Trump, including Latinos.”

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted: “Once again, Barack Obama is very, very disappointed in Americans, this time in evangelical Hispanics for putting their values and economic interests ahead of woke liberal obsessions.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbot tweeted that Mr Obama’s comments underlined why Mr Trump’s share of the Hispanic vote grew in this election.

“Some Democrats think they can criticize the values & religious beliefs of Hispanics but still get their vote by using the race card,” he tweeted.