President Obama Calls 'Vicious' 2016 Campaign a 'Race to the Bottom'

PHOTO:President Barack Obama speaks following a meeting with the National Security Council, Feb. 25, 2016, at the State Department in Washington. PlayMandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH President Obama Takes Aim at 'Vicious' 2016 Campaign

President Obama used an annual St. Patrick's Day lunch on Capitol Hill to take aim at what he called the "corrosive, vulgar" state of the 2016 campaign.

“I know 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 said. "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."

Obama did not directly mention GOP front-runner Donald Trump, and thanked House Speaker Paul Ryan who was in the room for speaking out earlier in the day against violence on the campaign trail.

He also didn't spare some protesters from criticism, appearing to allude to the canceled Trump rally in his hometown of Chicago over the weekend.

“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 we hold," the president said. "In response to those attempts we’ve seen actual violence. And we’ve heard silence from too many of our leaders.”

“We can treat one another as patriots, even if we disagree,” Obama said. "We can condemn this race to the bottom or accept it as the way things are, and sink further."