Speaking at a joint press conference Thursday morning at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Obama makes extended comments regarding the 2016 election, and its unprecedented political polarization.
"I have been blamed by the Republicans for a lot of things," the president said. "But to be blamed for their primaries and who they are selecting is... novel."
"I’m not going to validate some notion that the Republican crackup that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken," he said.
"I don’t think I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example," he said. "I don’t recall saying, 'Hey, why don’t you ask me about that.'"
"It's not as if there's a massive difference between Mr. Trump's position on immigration and Mr. Cruz's. Mr. Trump may be more provocative in terms of how he sighs, but says them, but they're not that different."
QUESTION: Some of your critics have pointed to the incredible polarized political climate as under your administration as contributing to the rise of someone as provocative as Donald Trump. Do you feel any responsibility for that, or for the protectionist rhetoric from some Democratic candidates. Do you have a timeline for when you may make a presidential endorsement?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have been blamed by the Republicans for a lot of thing, but to be blamed for their primaries and who they are selecting, that is taking place in their primary is... novel.
Look, I've said -- I said at the State of the Union that one of my regrets is the degree to which polarization and the nasty tone of our politics has accelerated, rather than waned over the course of the last seven and a half years, and I do all kinds of soul searching in terms of --- Are there things I can do better to make sure we're unifying the country, but I also have to say, Margaret, that objectively it's fair to say that the Republican political elites, and many of the information outlets, social media, television stations, talk radio, have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years, a notion that everything I do is to be opposed, that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal, that maximalist absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous.
That there's a them and us, and it's the them that are causing the problems we're experiencing, and the tone of that politics -- which I certainly have not contributed to -- I have not -- you know, I don't think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example. I don't remember saying, hey, why don't you ask me about that.
Why don't you question whether I'm American or whether I'm loyal or whether I have America's best interests at heart.
Those aren't things that were prompted by any actions of mine, and so what you're seeing within the Republican party is to some degree all those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive.
You know, he's just doing more of what has been done for the last seven and a half years, and, in fact, in terms of his positions on a whole range of issues, they're not very different from any of the other candidates.
It's not as if there's a massive difference between Mr. Trump's position on immigration and Mr. Cruz's. Mr. Trump may be more provocative in terms of how he sighs, but says them, but they're not that different.