Obama blasts Trump for fanning racial, economic resentments

Former President Obama criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE in a highly anticipated speech on Friday for capitalizing on racial and economic resentments that he said had been fanned for years by politicians, stepping off the political sidelines and offering a rare criticism of the sitting president by name.

"It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause," Obama said of current political tensions during a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

"He's just capitalizing on resentments politicians have been fanning for years," he continued. "A fear, an anger that’s rooted in our past, but it's also born of the upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."

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While Obama has occasionally delivered veiled criticisms of his successor since leaving office, he refrained for more than a year from taking on Trump by name. 

Obama's speech on Friday called for a re-examination of American values and ideals.

“I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who it is that we are, just what it is that we stand for,” Obama said.