Barck Obama criticises tone of 2016 US presidential debate

President Barack Obama delivered a withering critique of the vitriolic 2016 US presidential debate on Monday, branding it unworthy of American voters.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 28, 2015, 00:18 AM IST

Addis Ababa: President Barack Obama delivered a withering critique of the vitriolic 2016 US presidential debate on Monday, branding it unworthy of American voters.

It is rare for a president to address domestic controversy while on a foreign trip, but Obama was asked about the increasingly hysterical tone of the debate while on a visit to Ethiopia.

With at least 16 Republicans vying for their party's candidacy to replace Obama in 18 months time, his opponents have dramatically upped their rhetoric in a bid to get noticed.

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump has captured the news agenda with hardline anti-immigration language and insulting attacks on his Republican rivals.

Now former Arkansas governor turned talk show host Mike Huckabee has launched an assault on Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, branding it a betrayal of Israel in terms recalling the Nazi holocaust against the Jews.

Addressing reporters in Addis Ababa, Obama hit out at the "outrageous" attacks, which he said "have become all too commonplace" in America's highly polarised politics.

"We are creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics," Obama said. "The American people deserve better," Obama said.

Obama specifically berated Huckabee for his suggestion that the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran would march Israelis to the "door of the oven."

But he also broadened his response to warn that Huckabee's assault marked part of what he called a "general pattern" that would be "considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad".

Obama is lobbying hard to defend the Iran deal, which could still be derailed by the US Congress and which is seen by aides as a signature achievement of his presidency.

The deal would place curbs on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for relief from US and international sanctions, ending more than a decade of tensions.

Republicans have resoundingly rejected the agreement -- saying Iran should completely dismantle its nuclear programme -- and made it a central topic in the election campaign.

Obama also took issue with Trump's "outrageous" comments criticizing the war record of Republican Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.