OBAMA: I hope the GOP picks someone more 'constructive' than Donald Trump

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Barack Obama Makes a Dig at Donald Trump During His Final State of the Union Address

In an interview published Monday morning, President Barack Obama said he hopes that the Republican Party nominates someone more moderate than the party's current presidential front-runners.

Obama, speaking with Politico correspondent Glenn Thrush, implicitly compared the 2016 race to his own opponent in 2008: Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).

"When I ran against John McCain, John McCain and I had real differences, sharp differences, but John McCain didn't deny climate science," Obama recalled.

"John McCain didn't call for banning Muslims from the United States. You know, John McCain was a conservative, but he was well within, you know, the mainstream of not just the Republican Party but within our political dialogue," he continued. "And that's where, ultimately, any voter is going to have to pay attention is the degree to which the Republican rhetoric and Republican vision has moved not just to the right but has moved to a place that is unrecognizable."

Obama was referring the political agenda of real-state mogul Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner. Trump has for years questioned the validity of mainstream climate science and ignited a national firestorm last month by proposing to bar all Muslim tourists and immigrants from entering the US.

Thrush then asked Obama: "Where do you think it ends?"

The president said his hope was for the Republicans to nominate a more "constructive" candidate than either Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is currently Trump's top rival in the primary.

"Well, my hope — not just for me or the Democratic Party but for the Republican Party and for America – is that this is an expression of frustration, anger that folks like Trump and, to some degree, Cruz, are exploiting. It's real within the Republican Party and the Republican base, but that after this venting, Republican voters will settle down and say, 'Who do we want actually sitting behind the desk, making decisions that are critical to our future?'" Obama said.

"And I've always said I want a healthy, two-party system where there's vigorous debate but both parties are contributing to a constructive vision of the country and help us make progress," he added. "And it will be interesting to watch, during the course of this campaign, whether or not Republican voters steer back towards the center."

See images from Obama's final SOTU:

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OBAMA: I hope the GOP picks someone more 'constructive' than Donald Trump
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama waves after delivering the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (Top L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (Top R). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter greets members of congress before US President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: (L-R) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, first lady Michelle Obama, Naveed Shah of Springfield, VA., and wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden give applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. In his final State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Evan Vucci - Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (front) looks on as US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during the State of the Union Address in a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry (R), along with United States Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew (2nd R), U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (3rd R), and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (4th R) gives applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Members of congress including Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (C) applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R) before delivering the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
US President Barack Obama (C) speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama reads from the text of his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks with members of congress before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Little Sisters of the Poor (C) arrive before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut (Center-L) and first lady Michelle Obama, talk before US President Barack Obama arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), R-WI, and US Vice President Joe Biden (L) shake hands with US President Barack Obama before the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Vice President Joe Biden gestures before the arrival of US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) waves before the arrival of US President Barack Obama before the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Satya Nadella (C), CEO of Microsoft, gestures as he waits for US President Barack Obama to deliver the State of the Union at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. Obama gives his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (L) of Vermont arrives prior to US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky, arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Kim Davis, a born-again Christian, was jailed briefly in September 2015 for contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her opposition to gay marriage, which the Supreme Court legalized across the United States in June. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), shakes hands with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) looks on before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gives a thumbs up to members of congress before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Members of congress listen to US President Barack Obama deliver the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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