In a 30-minute conversation with members of the Obama Alumni Association, the former president said that the response to the coronavirus epidemic had served as a critical reminder of why strong government leadership is needed during a global crisis. The call was intended to encourage former Obama staff to become more involved in Biden’s presidential campaign.
“This election that is being prepared – at all levels – is so important because what we are going to fight will not be just an individual or a political party,” said Obama. “What we are fighting against are these long-term trends in which to be selfish, to be tribal, to be divided and to see others as an enemy – it has become a stronger impetus in American life.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany rejected Obama’s criticism on Saturday, saying in a statement to CNN: “President Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been unprecedented and has saved American lives.”
“This is part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and uneven,” said Obama. “It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It was an absolute and chaotic disaster when this state of mind – of” what I get out of it “and” heckling with everyone “- when this state of spirit is operationalized in our government. “
He added, “That’s why, by the way, I’m going to spend as much time as I need to and campaign as hard as I can for Joe Biden.”
This story was updated with the White House’s response to Obama’s comments.
CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.