President Barack Obama took a few not-so-veiled digs at Republican front-runner Donald Trump while celebrating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery on Dec. 9.
The president made his remarks on Capitol Hill, where he was joined by lawmakers in marking 150 years since the addition of the 13th Amendment, which was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.
"We betray the efforts of the past if we fail to push back against bigotry in all its forms," Obama said, according to CNN.
The president didn't name Trump or any of the other Republicans vying for their party's nomination, but his words were construed as a rebuke to increasingly pitched rhetoric from the party's leaders, who have tried to play catch-up with Trump in an attempt to look tough on terrorism.
Trump was heavily criticized for saying he'd institute a blanket ban on Muslims entering the U.S. if he's elected president, then responded by saying he doesn't care about the criticism, CNN reported.
The Republican front-runner's comments about blocking Muslims came on Dec. 7, a day after Obama's tepid speech on terrorism in the wake of the Dec. 2 San Bernardino, California, shootings, which left 14 people dead.
The president was widely criticized for the speech, in which he spoke about gun control and once again made distinctions between Islam and its more radical branches.
Only 33 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the campaign against terrorist group ISIS, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll, and 64 percent of Americans polled said they disapprove of Obama's efforts.
Meanwhile, Trump has opened up wide leads across the board, doubling his closest competitors in national polls while holding significant leads in key early-caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire, according to Real Clear Politics.
Although he cannot seek a third term, Obama hasn't been shy about criticizing Trump, and in his remarks on Dec. 9 he asked Americans "to remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others -- regardless of what they looked like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice."
Obama's speech followed headline-making comments from White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said Trump's rhetoric should disqualify him from the presidential race.
"I'm not going to wave you off consideration of the idea that that message stands in quite stark contrast to the rhetoric we hear from a variety of Republican candidates for president," Earnest said.