In an interview with Politico‘s Glenn Thrush, President Barack Obama weighed in on the current election cycle, offering up fond recollections of his first presidential campaign and his historic win in Iowa, as well as an assessment of the modern Republican party, which he said had drifted so far from the mainstream political dialogue as to become “unrecognizable.”
Recalling his debates with Sen. John McCain during the 2008 general election, the president said:
When I ran against John McCain, John McCain and I had real differences, sharp differences, but John McCain didn’t deny climate science. John McCain didn’t call for banning Muslims from the United States. You know, John McCain was a conservative, but he was well within, you know, the mainstream of not just the Republican Party but within our political dialogue. And that’s where, ultimately, any voter is going to have to pay attention is the degree to which the Republican rhetoric and Republican vision has moved not just to the right but has moved to a place that is unrecognizable.
Asked about the GOP debates, the president said he found the whole format “artificial,” and observed that debates were “performance art as opposed to talking about stuff. They’re useful in the sense of seeing how somebody performs.”
He added that “it will be interesting to watch, during the course of this campaign, whether or not Republican voters steer back towards the center.”
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