Early on in his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama wanted to send a message to the American people: don't fall for what Donald Trump's selling.
"America has been through big changes before ," the president said just minutes into his speech. "Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control."
I've added the emphasis there, because this "restore past glory" is unmistakably a reference to Republican national poll leader Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is "Make America Great Again." Trump is, of course, arguing that unauthorized immigrants and Muslim refugees are threatening America, and has argued that these policy proposals — a border wall, mass deportation, and a halt to Muslim immigration — would save the country.
But, Obama continued in his speech, when similar challenges arose in the past, "each time, we overcame those fears" and "made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people."
Later on, Obama returned to the subject again — and even more explicitly (though he still didn't mention Trump by name). "We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion," he said. "This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith."
"His Holiness, Pope Francis," the president continued, "told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that 'to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.' When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country." Read the full text of his speech here.