In an interview with NPR, the president said that Republican politicians capitalized on voters’ anxieties about his African-American background.
President Obama has accused Donald Trump of "exploiting...[the] anger, frustration, [and] fear" of working class Americans in his campaign for president.
In an interview with National Public Radio released on Monday, Obama said that "blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy," pointing to flatlining wages due to the financial crisis, as well as globalization and technology.
"You combine those things and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear," Obama told NPR's Steve Inskeep. "Some of it justified but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That's what he's exploiting during the course of his campaign."
"That's not to suggest that everybody who objects to my policies may not have perfectly good reasons for it," he said. "If you are living in a town that historically has relied on coal and you see coal jobs diminishing, you probably are going to be more susceptible to the argument that I've been wiping out the economy in your area."
In the interview, conducted late last week before the president left for a two-week family vacation to Hawaii, Obama addressed a variety of issues, including "legitimate criticism" of his administration's explanation of dealing with ISIS.
Obama also spoke of the attacks against his identity and background from "specific strains in the Republican Party that suggest that somehow I'm different, I'm Muslim, I'm disloyal to the country, etc."
"That's probably pretty specific to me and who I am and my background," Obama said, "and that in some ways I may represent change that worries them."
Obama also suggested that some voters' anxieties about him — which, he said, are being exploited by Trump and other Republican politicians — stemmed from his "being the first African-American president."
The president said that people questioning whether he was born in the U.S. is "something that is actively promoted and may gain traction because of my unique demographic. I don't think that that's a big stretch."
Watch the full interview here.
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