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  1. ITV Report

Barack Obama lashes out at Donald Trump for first time in key note speech

Obama giving his first major speech since leaving the White House. Credit: AP Direct

Former president Barack Obama has taken aim at Donald Trump, mentioning his predecessor by name for the first time in an impassioned speech.

Since leaving the White House to Trump in January 2017, Obama has remained tight lipped about the current president's policies.

But in a key note speech the former commander-in-chief lashed out at Trump, accusing him of stirring up deep rooted fear and resentment and challenging him on not calling out Nazi-sympathisers.

He denounced the current president's frequent attacks on the press and referenced Trump's reaction to the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacist rallies.

Trump, however, was quick to respond, claiming he "fell asleep" during the speech.

"I found him very good for sleeping," the president said.

Here are some of the key quotes from Obama's speech:

  • On Trump failing to stand up to Nazi sympathizers
  • On Trump's administration "secretly not following the president's orders"
  • On Trump appealing to people's fears

Obama accused Trump of "capitalising on resentments" in his first major speech since he left the White House.

Speaking ahead of the 2018 midterms as he received an ethics in government award from the University of Illinois, Obama said Trump was "a symptom, not the cause."

Obama urged Americans to vote, saying "democracy depended on it" in this particularly challenging time in the country's history.

“Because there is actually only one real check on bad policy and abuses of power, and that’s you — you and your vote," he said.

"What happened to the Republican party? ... In a healthy democracy, there's some checks and balances on this kind of behaviour, this kind of inconsistency. But right now there's nothing."

“Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you this moment really is different,” Obama continued.

“The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire.”