Barack Obama has criticized two Republican presidential candidates, South Carolina senator Tim Scott and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, for their positions on race relations in America.
During a podcast interview, Obama, who became the first black president of the United States when elected in 2008, said that while presenting a message of hope on race relations was important, “it must be underpinned by an honest account of our past and our present”. ”.
Related: ‘The exact opposite of Donald Trump’: Republican Senator Tim Scott’s vision for America
Scott is the only black candidate in the 2024 presidential primary and Haley is Native American.
Asked about Scott’s message, Obama said Republican candidates sometimes tend to gloss over the effects of racism, saying candidates need to address racial disparities to be taken seriously about American unity.
“There’s a long history of African-American candidates or other minorities within the Republican Party who will validate America and say, ‘It’s okay, and we can make it happen,'” Obama told Democratic strategist David Axelrod on Ax Files, hosted by CNN. He added that he thought Nikki Haley “had a similar approach.”
Obama said that approach does not include “a plan for how to address the crippling generational poverty that is the result of hundreds of years of racism in this society, and we need to do something about it.
“If this candidate is unwilling to acknowledge that, over and over again, we have seen discrimination in everything from … finding a job to buying a house to the workings of the criminal justice system,” he added. .
This prompted a reaction from Scott, a former insurance agent, who said: “The racism is real. He’s alive,” but argues that his achievement as a black man is not exceptional but representative of progress.
Scott responded to Obama’s comments, telling conservative radio host Mark Levin that the president “missed a slow-moving softball with a big bat.”
In a Twitter post later Thursday, Scott said, “Let’s not forget that we are a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression. Democrats deny our progress to protect their power,” he wrote. “The left wants you to believe that faith in America is a fraud and that progress in our nation is a myth.
“The truth of MY life disproves the lies of the radical left,” Scott continued. “We live in a country where little black and brown boys and girls can be presidents of the United States. The truth is we had one and the good news is we will have another,” he added.
Moreover, Nikki Haley challenged Obama’s position.
“Barack Obama set minorities back by blaming them as victims instead of holding them accountable,” Haley told the New York Post. “In America, hard work and personal responsibility count. My parents didn’t raise me with the idea that I would always be a victim. They raised me to know that I was responsible for my success.