President Obama Says Donald Trump Is 'Exploiting' Americans' Fears

PHOTO: President Obama holds a press conference in Chicago on Oct. 27, 2015 and Donald Trump partakes in the third GOP debate, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo.PlayGetty Images
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Reflecting on the rise of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, President Obama said the real estate mogul is "exploiting" Americans' anxieties about the economy and American society.

"You combine those things and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear. Some of it justified, but just misdirected," Obama said in an interview with NPR released Monday.

"I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that," he continued. "That's what he's exploiting during the course of his campaign."

Trump earned the support of 41 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning registered voters in a recent Monmouth University poll, opening up a 27-point lead over his closest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

In a wide-ranging interview before leaving for Hawaii, Obama also discussed the fight against ISIS, and the threat the group poses to the United States.

"This is not an organization that can destroy the United States," Obama said. "But they can hurt us, and they can hurt our people and our families."

The president also called Cruz's plan to "carpet bomb" ISIS "terrible for our national security."

“What I would say to my successor is that it is important not just to shoot but to aim,” he said. "It is important ... to make sure that you are making your best judgments based on data, intelligence, the information that's coming for your commanders and folks on the ground, and you're not being swayed by politics."