President Barack Obama used an event commemorating the end of slavery to pointedly call for tolerance and respect Wednesday, amid a political firestorm over Donald Trump’s proposal for a Muslim travel ban.
In a speech at the US Capitol marking the 150th anniversary of the 13th amendment — which banned slavery — Obama did not mention the Republican presidential candidate by name but made the political context clear.
“Remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of what they look like… or what faith they practice,” he said, to loud cheers from lawmakers.
He urged Americans to do what previous generations had done and “rise above cynicism and fear.”
Obama’s comments were much more subtle than those of his lieutenants, who have roundly condemned Trump’s remarks.
The White House on Tuesday angrily challenged Republicans to denounce their party’s presidential frontrunner for proposing to bar Muslims from entering the country.
Painting Trump as a “carnival barker” with “fake hair” whose campaign belonged in the “dustbin of history,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump’s plan should disqualify him from office.