Carefully screened spontaneous question.
U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to ease growing Asian worries about the raucous election campaign to succeed him which has been dominated by the incendiary rhetoric of mogul Donald Trump, now the Republican Party’s nominee.
“I think other people sometimes look at our election system and say ‘what a mess’,” Obama told a townhall meeting with young leaders in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon.
“But usually we end up doing okay because the American people are good people … Sometimes our politics doesn’t express all the goodness of the people,” he said, without referring specifically to any of the presidential candidates.
Obama made the comments just before ending a three-day trip to Vietnam, whose high point was an announcement that Washington’s ban on sales of lethal weapons to the country – a vestige of the Vietnam War – would be completely lifted.[…]
Across Asia, policymakers have been startled by Trump’s “isolationist” foreign policy pronouncements, which have challenged much of the status quo in Washington’s relations with the region.
Many fear Trump will feed insecurity in nations worried about China’s growing power, embolden nationalists and authoritarians, and unravel Obama’s ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific.
At the townhall in Ho Chi Minh City, a young woman who had been an exchange student in Montana asked Obama what he thought of the prospects that Trump or Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders following him to the White House.
“Usually, eventually the voters make good decisions and democracy works,” replied Obama, whose criticism of Trump has sharpened since he all but clinched the Republican nomination. “Things are going to be ok. I promise.”
Thousands of people lined the streets of Ho Chi Minh City for a second day to cheer enthusiastically and wave mini-flags of Vietnam and the United States as Obama drove by on his way to the airport for a flight to Japan.
At his freewheeling townhall, where he was greeted with a standing ovation, Obama noted that two-thirds of the country’s population were born after 1975, when the war ended with North Vietnamese tanks rolling into Saigon to bring U.S.-backed South Vietnam under communist rule.
Obama prodded Vietnam’s leaders on political freedoms during his visit after critics of the government were prevented from meeting him. When a woman rapper at the townhall asked him about supporting arts and culture, he segued into an appeal for people to be allowed to express themselves.