Obama: 'For 7 Years, GOP Created Environment Where Trump Could Thrive'
The president says he's not responsible for the GOP's "crack-up."
President Obama said at a news conference today that the Republican party's rhetoric and opposition for the last seven years has led to the rise of Donald Trump.
He pushed back against the argument that his policies have led to Trump's rise, calling it "novel."
Obama said the Republican base has been "fed" for years the notion that everything he does should be opposed and that compromise with him is a "betrayal."
Obama said he never asked for Trump or anyone else to question his birth certificate, or whether he's American or whether he has the country's "best interests at heart."
"All those efforts created an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive. He's just doing more of what has been done for the last seven-and-a-half years," the president said.
He argued that there is no "massive difference" between Trump's positions on immigration and those held by Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, despite the senators' families being the "products of immigration and the openness of our society."
"Mr. Trump might just be more provocative in terms of how he says it," said Obama.
He added that he welcomes a "serious, effective Republican Party, in part to challenge some of the blind spots and dogma in the Democratic Party."
Obama said he believes it's his responsibility to "bridge divides" and that "common ground exists all across the country."
"I'm not going to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that's been taking place is a consequence of actions that I've taken," he said.
Earlier in the session, Obama called out Republicans for refusing to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee.
He said it was "ironic" that Republicans always cite the Constitution, but now will not go along with their duties when it comes to the Supreme Court vacancy.
"You can't abandon your principles, if these are indeed your principles, simply for the sake of political expedience," said Obama.
Watch Obama discuss Trump in the clip above and the SCOTUS vacancy below.