Former President Barack Obama returned to the lectern to deliver a highly anticipated speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday, according to The Hill.
The appearance was a big deal given the former POTUS has largely avoided the limelight since leaving the Oval Office and because Obama directly criticized President Trump, something he has said he's reticent to do in the past.
Obama specifically touched the current president's response to Charlottesville. In his remarks on the tragic day, President Trump famously took time to peddle his wine brand and said there were bad actors on "both sides."
Obama just called out Trump for his reaction to Charlottesville: "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" pic.twitter.com/44J8tXCnUy— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 7, 2018
The 44th president didn't mince words. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" he asked.
Additionally, Obama called out the fearmonger actions politicians have used to energize voters for centuries, calling President Trump a "symptom, not a cause" of this kind of nativist, racist strategy.
Obama mentions Trump by name!— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
"He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that's rooted in our past but it's also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes." pic.twitter.com/fmoaPfCiHu
Obama also took the opportunity to flex a bit on behalf of his party ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, reminding voters he and the Democrats were in charge during the economic recovery following the Great Recession.
"When I came into office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month ... by the time I left, household income was near its high, uninsured rates hit an all-time low," 44 said.
OBAMA: "When I came into office we were losing 800k jobs a month. Millions of people were losing homes... By the time I left, household income was near its high, uninsured rates hit an all-time low. So when you hear how great the economy is, let's just remember where it started." pic.twitter.com/698WLPLNGr— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
"So when you hear how great the economy is, let's just remember where it started," he said, and added, "Actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015."
Democratic strategists have promised Obama will be going hard in the paint to turn the Hill blue following this year's elections, and the former president showed signs of doing just that as he wrapped his speech by asking voters to hit the ballot box.
Voting, Obama said, is more important than ever because "our democracy depends on it."
OBAMA: "And as a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, but as a fellow— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
citizen, I'm here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it... a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different." pic.twitter.com/XmOovToppX
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