Donald Trump has taken a swipe at Barack Obama’s recently delivered eulogy for civil rights hero John Lewis, calling it a “ridiculous” speech intended to attack him rather than commemorate its supposed subject.
Calling in to Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning, Mr Trump was invited to opine on Mr Obama’s address, which the programme’s hosts themselves complained was more political than respectful.
“Who is having a harder time getting over the 2016 election,” asked host Brian Kilmeade, “Hillary Clinton, or president Obama? And do you agree that seemed like a campaign speech, and less of a eulogy?”
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Mr Trump replied in the most critical of terms. “I thought it was a terrible speech, it was an angry speech, it showed this anger there that people don’t see, he lost control. And he’s really been hit very hard by both sides for that speech, that speech was ridiculous.
“I think the answer is they both are, just in a state where – it’s just one of those things.”
The eulogy Mr Obama gave did indeed contain references to the state of the US under Mr Trump. At one point, the former president pointed out that while formal bans prohibiting black people from voting may be a thing of the past, some of the conduct of the Trump administration raises the spectre of the ugly past that John Lewis fought against.
“Bull Connor may be gone,” he said, “but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
Contrary to what Mr Trump told this morning’s hosts, while some Republicans did indeed take exception to Mr Obama’s address, many Democrats celebrated it as an expression of commitment to the things to which Mr Lewis dedicated his life.
As Mr Obama himself said, “There are some who might say we shouldn’t dwell on such things. But that’s why I’m talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we are seeing circulate right now.”
Meanwhile, Mr Trump – who did not attend Mr Lewis’s funeral, and recently complained that the congressman had not come to his 2017 inauguration – detoured from his complaints about the eulogy to a more general ramble against Obama and his administration.
“We’ve redone 82 per cent or something of the Obama things. Whether you look at the environment, our air and water is cleaner than it’s ever been, but we’re producing – just go back prior to the plague coming in, and by the way, we’re going to have those numbers plus next year, you’ll watch. But you look at the numbers we were doing and despite that, our air and water numbers were better than they ever were …
“But no, I thought that speech was totally inappropriate, very bad. He fought very hard, a lot of people don’t realise, and I think I said it the other day, he fought just as hard or harder than Hillary so that Hillary won. He was somebody – I didn’t know him, but he was somebody that wanted me not to win.”