Read: Obama calls Trump ‘unfit’
The following is a partial transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks about Donald Trump, as made Tuesday in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Lee of Singapore:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.
First question is Margaret Brennan.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Given the Republican nominee’s recent comments about the Khan family and his statement that, if President, he would consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, does it make you question his fitness to be President?
And secondly, sir, on Libya. You’ve said in the past that the worst mistake of your presidency may have been your failure to plan for the aftermath of that 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. Do you see your new decision to bomb ISIS there as a direct result of that?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, I think the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as President. I said so last week, and he keeps on proving it. The notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that had made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country, the fact that he doesn’t appear to have basic knowledge around critical issues in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, means that he’s woefully unprepared to do this job.
And this is not just my opinion. I think what’s been interesting is the repeated denunciations of his statements by leading Republicans, including the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, and prominent Republicans like John McCain. And the question I think that they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him? What does this say about your party that this is your standard bearer? This isn’t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily, and weekly, where they are distancing themselves from statements he’s making. There has to be a point in which you say, this is not somebody I can support for President of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.
And the fact that that has not yet happened makes some of these denunciations ring hollow. I don’t doubt their sincerity. I don’t doubt that they were outraged about some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family. But there has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.
Because a lot of people depend on the White House getting stuff right, and this is different than just having policy disagreements. I recognize that they all profoundly disagree with myself or Hillary Clinton on tax policy or on certain elements of foreign policy. But there have been Republican Presidents with whom I disagreed with, but I didn’t have a doubt that they could function as President. I think I was right, and Mitt Romney and John McCain were wrong on certain policy issues, but I never thought that they couldn’t do the job. And had they won, I would have been disappointed, but I would have said to all Americans they are -- this is our President, and I know they’re going to abide by certain norms and rules and common sense, will observe basic decency, will have enough knowledge about economic policy and foreign policy and our constitutional traditions and rule of law that our government will work, and then we’ll compete four years from now to try to win an election.
But that’s not the situation here. And that’s not just my opinion; that is the opinion of many prominent Republicans. There has to come a point at which you say, enough. And the alternative is that the entire party, the Republican Party, effectively endorses and validates the positions that are being articulated by Mr. Trump. And as I said in my speech last week, I don’t think that actually represents the views of a whole lot of Republicans out there.
With respect to Libya, I have said on several occasions that we did the right thing in preventing what could have been a massacre, a blood bath in Libya. And we did so as part of an international coalition and under U.N. mandate. But I think that all of us, collectively, were not sufficiently attentive to what had to happen the day after, and the day after, and the day after that, in order to ensure that there were strong structures in place to assure basic security and peace inside of Libya.
The good news is, is that we now have the beginnings of a government in the Government of National Accord. They are serious about trying to bring all the factions together to start creating a basic security structure to begin to monitor Libya’s borders and to cooperate internationally to deal with issues like ISIL penetration on their territory. And at the request of that government, after they had already made significant progress against ISIL and had essentially pushed ISIL into a very confined area in and around Sirte, it is in America’s national security interest in our fight against ISIL to make sure that they’re able to finish the job. And so we’re working in partnership with them to assure that ISIL does not get a stronghold in Libya, even as Libya begins what is going to be a long process to establish a functioning government and security system there.
So the good news is that they recognize this terrorist organization in their midst is contrary to their national interests as well as the world’s. And we’re hopeful that having completed this process of driving ISIL out, they will then be in a position to start bringing the parties together inside that country. And not only us, but the Europeans and other countries around the world have a great interest in seeing stability in Libya, because that -- the absence of stability has helped to fuel some of the challenges that we’ve seen in terms of the migration crisis in Europe and some of the humanitarian tragedies that we’ve seen in the open seas between Libya and Europe.