Expressing confidence that immigration wouldn’t be shut off and trade deals would persist, Obama argued against the type of protectionist policies that Trump has espoused on the campaign trail. And he cast the presumptive GOP nominee as a failed historical archetype.
“We’ve had times throughout our history where anti-immigration sentiment is exploited by demagogues,” Obama said. “The language is identical. But guess what? They kept coming, and they kept coming because America offered possibility for their children and grandchildren.”
Convening a final North American leaders’ summit even as the U.S. presidential contest throws crucial cross-border issues into dispute, Obama and his counterparts discussed trade, security and climate change during a day of talks in the Canadian capital.
But during an afternoon press conference, Trump was the topic du jour. Reporters quizzed Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extensively about the candidate’s vow to construct a border wall and withdraw from free trade deals.
Obama’s visit comes just a day after Trump lambasted the agreements that have linked the U.S. and its northern and southern neighbors in tight trade ties, vowing to withdraw from the much-maligned NAFTA agreement while insisting he’d also scuttle Obama’s proposed replacement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Expected Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton also now opposes TPP.