Donald Trump: Obama Was 'More Angry At Me' Than The Orlando Shooter
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
And this evening, Donald Trump responded to the president, and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is here to tell us more about that. Hi there, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.
MCEVERS: And first let's hear a little bit of what Donald Trump had to say.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: And I watched President Obama today, and he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter. And many people said that.
TRUMP: One of the folks on television said, boy, has Trump gotten under his skin. But he was more angry - and a lot of people have said this. The level of anger - that's the kind of anger he should have for the shooter and these killers that shouldn't be here.
LIASSON: Trump unleashed. This was a full Trump rant and a very tough speech - no teleprompter involved. And this was his answer to President Obama's comments. He also took aim at Hillary Clinton. He said if Hillary Clinton becomes president, I don't know if our country will ever, every come back.
MCEVERS: I mean, this has been quite a back and forth. You've got Donald Trump responding to a president who's usually famous for playing it cool. But I mean President Obama was animated following his meeting with the National Security Council today, right?
LIASSON: He was very animated. He was defending his counterterrorism policy, which is based on cooperation from the Muslim community, from Donald Trump, whose policy is based on demonizing and banning an entire community. So he was counterpunching.
Donald Trump also yesterday said the president should resign and suggested that he was somehow sympathetic with the terrorists. You heard a little echo of that in the clip you just played. So this was an extraordinary moment. This is unprecedented - that a sitting president gets this involved in a presidential campaign.
MCEVERS: Hillary Clinton also had words today just after President Obama. She was pretty unsparing with Trump, maybe even more so than Obama.
LIASSON: Yes, this is a real tag team - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There has been no pause from the two campaigns after this horrific tragedy. And Donald Trump, who still hasn't unified his own party, doesn't just have one opponent this year. He has two going after him full throttle - the president - you just heard that - and Hillary Clinton, who gave another blistering speech against Trump today. He said - she said it was shameful that Trump has suggested President Obama was somehow sympathetic to the terrorists, and it's more evidence that Trump is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief. That is the Democrats' basic argument.
MCEVERS: And you talked about how it's unprecedented that a sitting president would get involved like this. Do you see more of this going forward?
LIASSON: Absolutely. The president has made it clear he's going to campaign as hard as he can. His legacy is at stake. President - Hillary Clinton wants him to campaign anywhere he can. He's an incredibly asset for her. So the Democrats have a big team. They have - she has a lot of powerful surrogates to campaign for her. Up until now, Donald Trump has been a one-man band.
He doesn't have a chorus of Republicans coming to his aid and saying, yes, we agree with what he said. As a matter of fact, today, as Scott just mentioned, Paul Ryan again had to distance himself from Trump's ban on Muslims entering the country. And you can't find an elected Republican who will stand up and say, Donald Trump is right; we're all behind him.
MCEVERS: And quickly, Mara, today was also the final presidential primary. Polls just closed her in Washington, D.C. Bernie Sanders was on the ballot. I mean, is he still relevant at this point?
LIASSON: He's still running. Whether he's still relevant is another question. The general election battle is fully engaged, and the campaign seems to have moved on. Now, Sanders and Clinton are meeting tonight in D.C. The big question is, what does he want from her before he can endorse her?
But you know, Orlando has really changed things. We're not sure yet what broader political impact it will have - whether it will help Trump or help Clinton. But one thing we can say is it has sidelined Sanders and made him seem even more of an asterisk because he just doesn't seem to have a lot to contribute to the debate about how to protect Americans from home-grown terrorism.
MCEVERS: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you very much.
LIASSON: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.