Obama Kicks Off Midterm Push In Illinois

Barack Obama gives speech today as he receives ethics award — watch live stream, live updates

"In the end, the threat to our democracy doesn't just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress", he said. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?"

In an unusually blistering attack on his successor, Obama said Americans were living in risky times and accused Republicans of threatening democracy, dividing the country, undermining global alliances and cozying up to Russian Federation. We are supposed to stand up to bullies not follow them.

The Times says the op-ed, published Wednesday, was written by a senior official in the Trump administration.

"The claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president's orders, that is not a check", Obama said. "That is not a check". "I'm being serious here". He doesn't have a strong record of helping his party win when his own name isn't on the ballot and Democrats suffered significant losses during both Obama midterms in 2010 and 2014.

"Over the past few decades, the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party", he added.

"I'm asking you to be neither blind to, nor dismayed by, reality - but motivated by it", Obama wrote in an email Thursday to supporters of Organizing for America, a grass roots organization he founded.

Obama and Trump have not talked since the inauguration, a source tells CNN. And for the first time, Obama publicly called out President Donald Trump by name.

"Out of this political darkness, I'm seeing a great awakening", Obama said, imploring the crowd of young people to get politically involved ahead of the November midterms, calling it the "most important" election in their lifetime. "More often, it's manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege". "He will lay out his views about where we are and where we go from here".

To avoid such traps, Obama in his post-presidency has chosen his spots carefully, opting to do targeted robo-calls a year ago to support Democratic Sen. While he has endorsed candidates and appeared at fundraising events, he has spent much of his post-presidency on the political sidelines.

Trump was dismissive of Obama's speech.

Trump has not honored that tradition and has shown little to no regard for his predecessors, regularly bashing them on Twitter, to the media and at rallies.

The 44th president of the U.S. was also scathing about Mr Trump's initial restraint when asked past year to condemn far-right protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Obama's involvement in the midterm campaign carries risks for Democrats.

UPDATE: 2:47 P.M.: This article was updated with a statement from the Republican National Committee.

Obama, who has frustrated some Democrats by keeping a relatively low profile since leaving office in January 2017, said Republicans seemed unwilling to safeguard democracy or offer a check on Trump's policies or worst instincts.

The former president implored an audience of college students to vote in the upcoming election.

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