Obama fears Trump damaging US reputation

2016-03-16 08:18
Barack Obama. (File: AFP)

Barack Obama. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington – Barack Obama has warned that the 2016 White House race is damaging America's image abroad, sounding the alarm on harsh campaigning that risks eroding gains made during his presidency.

Lashing out at "vulgar and divisive rhetoric" in the race to replace him, Obama told a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday: "This is also about the American brand."

"We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities – at Americans who don't look like 'us,' or pray like 'us,' or vote like we do," Obama said, with Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his side.

"This is also about the American brand. Who are we? How are we perceived around the world?" he asked. "The world pays attention to what we say and what we do."

His remarks reflect growing administration concern about the racially tinged message of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Obama came to office when America's image was battered by the war in Iraq and George W Bush's global unpopularity.

"We've seen a big change in the way the world sees the United States under Obama," Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research at Pew Research Center, told AFP.

"Overall attitudes across the globe towards the US are a lot more positive today than they were during the George W Bush era," he said, while noting the trend is not universal.

Improving America's image has been a major boon for Obama's presidency, giving him leverage with leaders keen to be seen with him.

From Indonesia to Ghana, it has also afforded Obama room to bypass the government and appeal to citizens directly.

But Trump's rhetoric and his rise – bolstered by wins in Illinois, North Carolina and Florida on Tuesday – has put the longevity of that trend in doubt.

‘From puzzlement to bemusement’

US officials now report an "intense focus" from partners on the 2016 presidential campaign and a "laser-like focus on the Trump campaign."

"It's a new element that we find ourselves meeting virtually every time we meet with foreign counterparts," said one administration official on condition of anonymity.

"They want to know what exactly is going on. Are these people serious? What does this mean for our bilateral relations. It ranges from puzzlement, to bemusement, to genuine concern."

"The idea of Trump's campaign making it all the way to the Oval Office is not something some of our counterparts have responded too fondly to."

Trump's promise to build a wall on the Mexican border and "make" Mexico pay for it has already elicited angry public responses.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto compared that rhetoric to Hitler and Mussolini.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, on his first visit to Washington since taking up the post, also voiced disquiet on the debate over migrants.

"This is a very important part of US leadership in the world," he told reporters on Tuesday. "So, since every candidate is talking about US leadership, this is part of it."

Dan Restrepo, who for six years was Obama's top advisor on Latin America, said that "a president Trump would obviously have profoundly negative implications for relationships in the Americas."

But he said that if Trump's ideas are rejected, "the vitality of the democratic institutions in the United States will have been reaffirmed, and that could be beneficial."

Read more on:    donald trump  |  barack obama  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.