Barack Obama bashed Republican presidential hopefuls Nikki Haley’s and Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) perspectives on race relations.
Obama told Democratic strategist David Axelrod that “there’s a long history of African-American or other minority candidates within the Republican Party who will validate America and say, ‘Everything’s great, and we can make it.’”
He added: “Nikki Haley I think has a similar approach.”
Obama’s comments were prompted by an assessment from Axelrod that Republicans like Scott espouse “half” of Obama’s view on race relations — the part about the progress being made.
However, Axelrod claimed the Republicans postulate that racial strife is “part of the past and we don’t need to worry about it so much.”
Haley fired back at Obama, accusing him of trafficking in victimhood politics.
“Barack Obama set minorities back by singling them out as victims instead of empowering them. In America, hard work and personal responsibility matter. My parents didn’t raise me to think that I would forever be a victim. They raised me to know that I was responsible for my success,” Haley said in a statement to the New York Post.
Obama made sure to underscore that he hasn’t “spent a lot of time studying Tim Scott’s speeches.”
“I’m not being cynical about Tim Scott individually, but I am maybe suggesting the rhetoric of ‘Can’t we all get along,’” Obama added.
“That has to be undergirded with an honest accounting of our past and our present.”
Scott hit back at Obama during an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin. The senator argued that Obama fumbled an opportunity to bring the country together on race relations.
“Mark, he missed a softball moving at slow speed with a big bat,” Scott said.
“You can’t miss this opportunity. America was hungry for bringing our country together, this coalition building where you can see Black kids and White kids and red ones and brown ones, as MLK spoke about, joining hands and singing with new meaning, ‘My country ‘tis of thee.’”
Scott further contended that “the one thing the far left does not want a Black person to be in this country is a conservative.”
“Let us not forget we are a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression. Democrats deny our progress to protect their power. The Left wants you to believe faith in America is a fraud and progress in our nation is a myth. The truth of MY life disproves the lies of the radical Left. We live in a country where little Black and Brown boys and girls can be President of the United States. The truth is — we’ve had one and the good news is — we will have another,” Scott tweeted.
All three — Obama, Scott, and Haley — have broken through various glass ceilings in their careers.
They have also been public about their personal experiences on race, but Haley and Scott have also been wary of excessive identity politics.
Obama was the first black president, Haley was the first Indian American to serve in the presidential cabinet and the second Indian American to serve as governor in the country, while Scott is the first black senator from South Carolina.
He is also one of only three black senators in the upper chamber.
At various times in his presidency, Obama reflected on race, including during the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.
Haley took note of her childhood growing up as a minority in her campaign announcement video back in February.
As governor of South Carolina, she carefully led the state to take down the Confederate flag flying over the state capital in the wake of the deadly Charleston church shooting that killed nine black attendees at a Bible study in a racially targeted attack.
Scott, who was first appointed to the Senate in 2013 by Haley, publicly opened up about his experience getting stopped by security seven times in one year. He emphasized that this was an unfortunate reality for black Americans across the country.
Both Scott and Haley are vying for the 2024 Republican nod for the presidency.
They are running in fourth and fifth place respectively in the crowded GOP field, per the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate.