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“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said. He added that “a lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
Obama spoke on “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] Edition,” a two-hour event for students graduating from historically black colleges and universities that was broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. His remarks were unexpectedly political, given the venue, and touched on current events beyond the virus and its social and economic impacts.
Although Obama didn't directly name President Trump, he has previously criticized the administration's response as plagued by selfishness.
“This election that’s coming up on every level is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party. What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy -- that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” he has said.
The commencement remarks Saturday were the latest sign that Obama intends to play an increasingly active role in the upcoming election. He has generally kept a low profile in the years since he left office, even as Trump has disparaged him. Obama has told supporters he would be “spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can” for Joe Biden, who served as his vice president and is the presumptive Democratic nominee to run against Trump in November.
Also on Saturday, President Trump argued that Democrats and the media were inaccurately portraying his administration's response.
"We’ve done a GREAT job on Covid response, making all Governors look good, some fantastic (and that’s OK), but the Lamestream Media doesn’t want to go with that narrative, and the Do Nothing Dems talking point is to say only bad about 'Trump'. I made everybody look good, but me!" he tweeted.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.