Washington: President Barack Obama said if black voters fail to vote in sufficient numbers and Donald Trump wins the presidency, he will consider it a "personal insult.”
"I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard,” Obama said late on Saturday at an awards dinner hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington. "You want to give me a good send off? Go vote!”
At times raising his voice during an impassioned 25-minute speech, Obama sought to rally his most loyal supporters to elect Hillary Clinton as his successor.
Obama’s remarks came a day after Trump acknowledged that the president was born in the US without apologising, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself after years of promoting a conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya.
Obama took the opportunity to mock Trump during the speech to the mostly black audience.
"I don’t know about you guys, but I am so relieved that the whole birther things is over,” the president said, smiling. "In other breaking news, the world is round, not flat.”
Obama also took aim at Trump’s outreach to black voters. Trump has spent much of the past month making overt attempts to reach out to black voters, often describing their lives in apocalyptic terms. He has said Democrats are responsible for the challenges in the urban communities.
In several rallies in recent months, Trump has said blacks live in crime-ridden communities and can’t walk down the street without getting shot.
"You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good,” Trump said at a Michigan rally last month. "You have no jobs. Fifty-eight per cent of your youth is unemployed. What do you have to lose?”
Obama’s remarks followed a speech by Clinton, who accepted an award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and attacked Trump’s candidacy without naming the candidate directly.
"You may have heard Hillary’s opponent in this election say that there’s never been a worse time in America to be a black person,” Obama said. "He missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow, but we’ve got a museum for him to visit. So he can tune in. We will educate him.”
Polls show Trump has little support from black voters, who supported Obama in record numbers during his run for the presidency.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a press conference on Friday after Trump said he believed Obama "was born in the United States, period” and credited himself with putting an end to the controversy.
"Donald Trump is a disgusting fraud,” said Representative GK Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. "He started this silliness years ago by saying President Obama is not an American citizen. He had no proof of it.”
Clinton addressed the birther issue in her speech to the group as well.
"I know I speak for not just everyone in this room but so many tens of millions of Americans: Mr President, not only do we know you are an American, you’re a great American. And you make us all proud to be Americans, too,’’ she said.