President Barack Obama is warning that the "vulgar and divisive" presidential campaign is damaging the country's reputation abroad.
Addressing Congress and guests including the Irish prime minister in his early St. Patrick's Day address, Obama said he was more than a little "dismayed" at the brash and aggressive style of campaigning with their controversial proposals comments, mainly by outspoken Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
"I know that I'm not the only one in this room who may be more than a little dismayed about what's happening on the campaign trail lately," Obama told the audience at the Friends of Ireland luncheon on Tuesday, according to a transcript of the speech on the White House website..
"We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities — at Americans who don't look like 'us,' or pray like 'us,' or vote like we do. We've seen misguided attempts to shut down that speech, however offensive it may be. We live in a country where free speech is one of the most important rights that we hold," he said.
"In response to those attempts, we've seen actual violence, and we've heard silence from too many of our leaders," he added.
For the past few months, Republican and Democratic presidential nominees have been campaigning throughout the U.S. and although Obama did not name names in his address, the campaign trail has been largely characterized by the controversial comments by Trump.
With the real estate magnate gaining the Republican nominations across many states, the billionaire has become well known for his strong views and controversial proposals. He caused global outrage suggesting that many Mexican immigrants were "in many cases criminals, drug dealers and rapists" and proposed building a wall between Mexico and the U.S.
He has also proposed temporarily banning Muslims entry to the U.S. Despite the comments, Trump has attracted many followers who are attracted to his "make America great again" campaign.
In the current atmosphere of U.S. politics, Obama warned that the American "brand" risked being damaged by the "vicious atmosphere" in U.S. politics.
"I say that not because it's a matter of 'political correctness.' It's about the way that corrosive behavior can undermine our democracy, and our society, and even our economy," he said.
"In America, there aren't laws that say that we have to be nice to each other, or courteous, or treat each other with respect. But there are norms. There are customs. ... The longer that we allow the political rhetoric of late to continue, and the longer that we tacitly accept it, we create a permission structure that allows the animosity in one corner of our politics to infect our broader society. And animosity breeds animosity."
"This is also about the American brand," he added. "Why would we want to see that brand tarnished? The world pays attention to what we say and what we do."