Former President Barack Obama says the midterm elections in November will give Americans the chance to — in his words — “restore some sanity in our politics” by changing control of Congress. (Sept. 8)
Former President Barack Obama is on the campaign trail, stumping for Democratic candidates in a midterm election in which he says our very democracy is at stake. And many conservative politicians and pundits were happy to get the chance to relive the Obama years and point to what they perceive as his failures in office.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in response to Obama’s speech that, “The more former President Obama speaks about the ‘good ol years’ of his presidency, the more likely President Trump is to get re-elected.”
Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka said Obama’s “whole eight-year presidency was an embarrassment when it comes to everything from the economy to national security.”
Several conservatives jumped on Obama’s assertion that President Donald Trump was brought to power by the forces in America that “keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical.” They said it was Obama, not Trump, who first used rhetoric to pit groups of Americans against each other.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a series of tweets outlining times he felt Obama was guilty of using divisive language, including his infamous 2008 line where he accused “cynical” voters of clinging to “guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro derided Obama for a “full-throttled, savage attack” on Trump. She particularly took issue with Obama’s statement that Trump has been “capitalizing” on America’s historical resentments.
“Are you kidding?” asked an incredulous Pirro. “If anyone has stoked racial hatred and divisiveness, it’s you,” she said, citing Obama’s actions in the wake of the 2014 police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, that helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The only reason that we have an outsider, businessman president is because of you, your lies, your policies and your divisiveness,” Pirro said. “You, Barack, you elected Donald Trump.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also took issue with Obama’s attempt to blame America’s divisions on Trump, calling it “richly ironic” for him to refer to Trump as a “symptom” of the divide.
“He was the president for the eight years when the cause was being created,” Christie said on “ABC This Week” on Sunday. “But the president acts like he’s detached from this, that somehow he was a dispassionate observer during the eight years beforehand.”
Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly slammed Obama for violating the unwritten code of former presidents not publicly criticizing their predecessors. But O’Reilly said Obama’s appearances will be good news for Trump and the Republicans because it reminds voters of two things: that Obama’s “economic policies harmed many Americans” and that “evidence points to powerful people within the Obama administration misusing the FBI and federal judges to illegally surveil the Trump campaign.”
In his speech Friday, Obama told the crowd that “when you hear how great the economy’s doing right now,” it is important to “remember when this recovery started.”
Stephen Moore, who served as economic adviser to Trump during the campaign, called it “preposterous” for Obama to take credit for the booming economy. Moore said the economy was slowing down dramatically at the end of Obama’s second term and that the current growth started as “a result of the fact that Obama and Clinton were not going to be office anymore.”
Fox Business host Stuart Varney called it a “stretch” for Obama to take credit for the economy.
“Today’s stellar 4 percent growth is clearly the result of tax cuts and deregulation. That’s Trump, it’s not Obama,” said Varney.
Conservative Eric Bolling tweeted that it is “disgraceful” to see Obama taking credit for Trump’s successes.
But Democrats like their chances heading into November, and many are happy to embrace Obama’s message.
Mike Levin, who is running for the seat left open by retiring GOP Rep. Darrell Issa in California, tweeted that Obama “left Trump an economy on third base. Trump thinks he hit a triple.”
“I think President Obama is a powerful reminder of what a presidential leader looks like, and that’s a contrast to Donald Trump,” Katie Porter, who is running to unseat California Republican Rep. Mimi Walters, told Politico.
But some, like Andrew Janz, who is trying to topple incumbent California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, are keeping more of a cautious distance.
“I’m going to run my own race,” Janz told Politico. “I am really focused on making sure that the voters of my district know that I am not somebody that is going to be controlled by the national party.”
Contributing: Eliza Collins, USA TODAY
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