Obama: Donald Trump is a "classic reality TV character"

Oct 12, 2015 11:49 AM by CBS News

In an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday, President Obama called Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump "the classic reality TV character" and "a great publicity seeker" who is capturing hearts and minds at a time the Republican Party "hasn't really figured out what it's for, as opposed to what it's against."

"I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican Party that's real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters," Mr. Obama said.

Ultimately, however, Mr. Obama predicted, "I don't think he'll end up being president of the United States."

Trump got 27 percent support nationally from Republican primary voters in thelatest CBS News poll, with neurosurgeon Ben Carson coming in second with 21 percent.

The president also weighed in on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email serverwhile she served as his secretary of state. He said he didn't know about it.

"I don't think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged," he said. "As a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data."

He did say the attention on Clinton's server was "ginned-up...in part because of politics. And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly." It's a legitimate issue, he added, but "the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season." I do think that the way it's been ginned-up is in part because of-- in part-- because of politics.

When interviewer Steve Kroft asked about the fact that the administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers, the president said, "There's no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don't get an impression that here there was purposely efforts to hide something or to squirrel away information."

On another potential challenger for Clinton - Vice President Joe Biden - the president said he's "going to let Joe make that decision." But he had plenty of praise for his number two, saying, "I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential...I don't think there's any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you're sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know wrestling with these issues, I'm sure that for him he's saying to himself, 'I could do a really good job.'"

The president doesn't sound optimistic about the prospect for great achievements in Congress during the rest of his presidential term, saying it would be "surprising" to make huge strides during the last year of his presidency.

"I have a more modest goal, which is to make sure that Congress doesn't do damage to the economy," he said.

Asked if he would miss House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his resignation last month, the president noted that he and Boehner "disagreed on just about everything." But, he added, Boehner "did care about the institution. He recognized that nobody gets 100 percent in our democracy."

"I won't say that he and I were ideal partners, but he and I could talk and we could get some things done. And so I am a little concerned that the reason he left was because there are a group of members of Congress who think having somebody who is willing to shut down the government or default on the U.S. debt is going to allow them to get their way 100 percent of the time," he said.


Most Popular