Eric Trump said Tuesday that President Obama has a “personal problem” with his father, President Trump, and is trying to take credit for his father’s accomplishments.
Trump, the president’s second eldest son and an executive vice president of the family’s eponymous business empire, spoke with Fox & Friends for Fox News’ all-day Election Day coverage and was asked by co-host Brian Kilmeade whether he thought Obama’s decision to stump for Democratic candidates nationwide ahead of the midterms was unusual.
“Something already unprecedented took place. And that thing that took place was a former president that is–cannot run again, went out acted like he was on the ballot. It’s Barack Obama,” Kilmeade said. “Number one, did he catch…your dad by surprise, that he would do this? And did you find it strange that it seems to be personal with him? He seems to have a personal problem with your father.”
“He does have a personal problem,” Trump responded. “He is taking credit for a lot of my father’s accomplishments. You see the passion. You don’t see the passion at [Obama’s] rallies. You see the passion at my father’s rallies.”
Trump then recounted an incident at the president’s rally Monday night for Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, during which a woman fainted and had to be treated by medical personnel.
“Last night, there was an unfortunate situation…where somebody had a medical emergency. So my father steps aside while the person’s being treated, and the crowd starts singing ‘Amazing Grace.’ It borderline brings tears to your eyes,” Trump said. “That’s America. People want this country to thrive, people want this country to succeed.”
He added, “This country is winning. I mean, we are… we are winning.”
Obama’s presence on the campaign trail is unorthodox. Typically, CBS notes, former presidents avoid openly criticizing their successors or stumping for candidates in their first few years of retirement. Though it’s not uncommon for them to eventually hit the road for fellow Republican or Democratic candidates, Obama is barely two years out of the Oval Office, meaning his decision is a stark departure from his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
However, the 2018 midterms are crucial for Democrats, who seek to take back the House of Representatives and establish a firmer foothold in state legislatures across the country. The party hopes that swinging the House back in its favor will give Congress the ability to push key legislation on issues like health care and taxes, put pressure on President Trump to release his tax returns, and give Democrats the ability to pursue or uphold investigations into Trump-nominated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Obama has made that message clear, though not in so many words.
“This is one of those pivotal moment when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are, just what it is that we stand for,” he said during a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in September, his first unofficial midterm event of the 2018 election season. “As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president but as a fellow citizen, I am here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.”
Since then, the former president has drawn sizable crowds and generated undeniable excitement and energy among voters.
Much of Obama’s talking points on the campaign trail have centered on health care, Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and their sudden, whiplash decision to support policies protecting pre-existing conditions. He’s cautioned supporters about Republican attempts to suppress voting and blasted Trump’s racist rhetoric on immigration, without naming him.
Throughout each stop, he’s also touted a message of courage, imploring voters to stand unified against that rhetoric.
“[It is] rhetoric that is designed to make us angry, and make us fearful,” he said at a rally for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams on Friday. “To make us believe that things will be better if it just weren’t for those who don’t like us or don’t pray like we do or don’t love like we do. It’s an old playbook. We’ve seen this before. I would have liked to think we were past it.”
Eric Trump was correct about one thing this week: Obama has indeed downplayed President Trump’s economic accomplishments over the past two years, though the numbers largely support his arguments. Speaking to attendees at a rally in Miami, Florida last week, he stated that “the economy was growing” by the end of his White House tenure and “kept on going” long after he had left.
“They’re talking about how ‘Oh look how many jobs we created.’ The economy created more jobs in the last 21 months that I was in office than it did in the 20 months after I left office. And at the time they were saying how terrible the economy was,” he said.
Trump, by contrast has claimed that his administration and Republicans in Congress are the party of economic prosperity for middle America, citing things like tariffs and the GOP tax bill. However, statistics do not support those claims.
Though Republicans have claimed the tax bill was a boon to working class Americans, for instance, official numbers show it has largely benefited mega-corporations, CEOs, and the super wealthy instead. Republicans have also since admitted that they plan to slash critical social programs like Medicare and Social Security to pay for the costly tax bill.
Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on countries like China and the European Union has also hit middle America hard, with farmers and auto workers alike criticizing the policy as detrimental to domestic interests.