Obama Kicks Off Midterm Push In Illinois

Obama speaks at the memorial service of Senator John Mc Cain at National Cathedral in Washington Sept. 1 2018

Chris Wattie Reuters

Barack Obama blasted President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as hypocrites and radicals in a scathing speech at the University of IL.

"I've found he's very good, very good for sleeping", Trump said.

Former President Barack Obama mentioned his successor by name in public for the first time since leaving office on Friday, saying Donald Trump was the "symptom" of a trend of resistance to positive progress. "Suddenly deficits do not matter", Obama said.

Obama has made some appearances since Trump took office - including headlining a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee earlier this year - but the Trump era has complicated Obama's post-presidency.

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"The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference", he said.

At one point, Obama said voters shouldn't stay home just because they "don't feel sufficiently inspired" by a particular candidate.

Obama also addressed Trump's tone-deaf comments previous year, when the president claimed that there were "some very fine people on both sides" during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that saw white supremacists squaring off against anti-racism protesters.

"In 2016, voters rejected President Obama's policies and his dismissiveness towards half the country".

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"If you're exhausted of politicians who offer nothing but thoughts and prayers after a mass shooting, you've got to do what the Parkland kids are doing", Obama said.

Obama criticized Trump for politicizing the Department of Justice, unwinding the social safety net and busting the budget with a tax-cut bill he said would exacerbate inequality.

"When you hear how great the economy's doing right now, let's just remember when this recovery started", he said. He added, America is supposed to "stand up to bullies, not follow them".

The speech was a preview of the arguments Obama is expected to make on the campaign trail.

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Obama had already waded into the midterms before Friday's speech, endorsing a slate of 81 federal and state office-seekers last month. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" he said. He'll next travel to California for an event with seven House candidates in Orange County. Republicans also continue to use Obama's image in campaign ads, like a special House election in Pennsylvania and the West Virginia Senate contest, where the Republican candidate, Patrick Morrisey, often boasts of his legal career suing to stop Obama policies. Next week he'll be in OH to campaign for Richard Cordray and other Democrats. "Doubling down on that strategy won't work in 2018 either".

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