(Washington Examiner) – President Obama called out Donald Trump on Monday for not being qualified enough to be president, echoing a line Bernie Sanders used against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary a month ago.
“He is not somebody who, even within the Republican Party, can be considered as equipped to deal with the problems of this office,” he told a report at an ABC-affiliate in New Hampshire during a sit-down interview Monday at the White House.
Although Trump is on a GOP primary winning streak, the president said he believes he will have a tough time beating the Democratic nominee in November.
In early April, Sanders caused an uproar by arguing that Clinton isn’t qualified to be president, intensifying an already heated battle ahead of the New York primary that Clinton ended up winning.
WMUR’s Josh McElveen was one of six reporters from local TV stations to speak with Obama Monday at the White House. All of the stations are in states with vulnerable Republican senators the White House and outside groups are trying to target in a campaign to press the case for Senate consideration of Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Obama chided Republicans, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, for opposing a vote on the nomination.
“I know that folks like Sen. Ayotte met with him, and the fact that they’re not calling for a hearing or a vote means they’re not doing their job,” Obama said.
Ayotte defended her position in her own interview with WMUR Monday and pointed out Obama’s own history of trying to filibuster Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination.
“Certainly when he was in the Senate, when he voted to filibuster Justice Alito, he understands that is a separate responsibility of the Senate,” she said.
“In my view, waiting for the elections, we are in the midst of a presidential nomination process, to have the people weigh in the election in November is important given we have a 4-4 court,” she added.
In a separate interview with Fox 10 in Phoenix, Obama said he was pleased that Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., had met with Garland but suggested that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is being hypocritical by refusing to do so.
“I think if the roles were reversed and Sen. McCain had made the nomination or any Republican president was making the nomination, I think they would be howling,” he said.
Garland, he said in several of the interviews with local stations, “may be the most qualified person ever nominated” for a seat on the high court, noting Garland’s career has a federal prosecutor who effectively prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing case and has served on the federal bench longer than some current members of the Supreme Court.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says we’re going to hold off to see how the election plays out,” Obama said.
During an interview with the Fox affiliate in Kansas City, Obama also called out Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., for refusing to meet with Garland.
“The fact that he’s not even getting a hearing currently and some senators like Sen. Blunt aren’t even meeting with him, I think the American people have already said is objectionable,” the president said.
Initially, GOP leaders said no Republican would meet with Garland but in the last two months, 18 Republicans have.
Obama cited the meetings as progress that will help build public momentum for Republicans to hold hearings so the people can listen to his answers.
“After they realize how qualified he is it’s not going to be tenable to suggest that he doesn’t get a hearing,” Obama said.
He also told the Kansas City Fox affiliate that he had yet to make a decision on where the remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay would go if he decides to circumvent Congress and close the island prison.
“There has been no decision made about where we would place the remaining folks that are still held at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.
“…We’re going to have a core remaining that I do believe need to be moved…and the main reason is that Guantanamo is probably the single biggest propaganda tool for jihadist and those who would try to do us harm.”
Kansas residents are on edge about closing the facility after reports in late summer last year that the Pentagon had sent a team to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to assess whether the military prison is suitable for prisoners now held at Guantanamo Bay.
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