Former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail on a Friday night outside Atlanta, ridiculing Republicans for being loyal to former President Donald Trump and mocking their choice of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker.
“Just about every Republican politician seems obsessed with two things — owning the libraries — and getting Donald Trump’s approval,” the former president said at the Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia. ‘It’s not complicated. And, at least to me, it’s not very inspiring.’
Obama’s job was to bolster the campaigns of Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who is in a close race against Walker, and hopeful Stacey Abrams, who is following incumbent Republican leader Brian Kemp.
He especially liked going after Walker, a former Georgia football and NFL player who has survived a string of scandals to date, including allegations of paying for abortions from ex-girlfriends.
Obama pointed out that for Walker “there is very little evidence that he has shown any interest, bothered to learn about it, or shown any inclination toward public service, volunteering, or helping people in any way.” ‘.
“I think he’s a celebrity who wants to be a politician,” Obama noted. “And we’ve seen how that goes. We’ve seen that before,’ he said with a laugh.
Former President Barack Obama’s (middle) job was to bolster the campaigns of Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock (right), who is in a tight race against Republican Herschel Walker, and hopeful Stacey Abrams (right), who is behind the incumbent GOP Governor Brian Kemp sits.
While it was clearly a reference to Trump, so was Obama labeled as ‘celebrity’ by his 2008 White House rival, the late Senator John McCain.
“There are a lot of young people here,” Obama said. “Some of you may not remember, but Herschel Walker was a great footballer.”
“But here’s the question, does that make him the best person to represent you in the US Senate? Does that equip him to weigh in on crucial decisions about our economy, our foreign policy and our future?’
Obama then asked the public to do a “thought experiment” with him.
“Suppose you’re at the airport and you see Mr. Walker and you say, ‘Hey, there’s Herschel Walker, winner of Heisman, let’s let him fly the plane!'” Obama said. ‘You wouldn’t say that. You would probably want to know, “Does he know how to fly an airplane?”‘
Obama came up with the same idea, but in a hospital. “That Walker man, he could definitely tear him up at Sanford stadium, give him a scalpel,” Obama said with a laugh.
“And by the way, the opposite is also true. You might have liked me as president, but you wouldn’t want me to start as a traffic jam for the Dogs,” Obama continued. “Imagine my slow, skinny bum getting hit by some 300 lb. defensive tackle… you’d have to scrape me off the field.”
“No, I can’t,” Obama said.
Obama and Warnock also pointed to Walker’s memorable debate moment: when he pulled out a fake police badge onstage to show his support for law enforcement.
When asked which Senate candidate would protect Georgia’s families, Obama mused, “Is it someone who carries a fake token and says he’s law enforcement?”
“Like he’s a kid playing cops and robbers,” Obama said with a laugh.
Obama and Warnock both claimed that Walker was a liar.
“He literally wears his lies like a badge of honor,” Warnock said.
More broadly, Obama urged voters to give President Joe Biden and the Democrats a pass on inflation and crime — the two things Republicans have used to their advantage.
“The fundamental question you should be asking yourself now is who will fight for you?” asked Obama. “That’s the choice in this election.”
Obama called inflation a “real problem.”
“It’s one of the legacies of the pandemic,” he continued. “And then you have a war in Urkaine that not only commits unbelievable brutality against the people of Ukraine, but also pushed up energy prices.”
Obama said that while Republicans “talk about it a lot — what’s their answer?”
Tax cuts for the rich, Obama said, was the answer.
‘That’s their answer to everything. If inflation is low, let’s cut taxes. If unemployment is high, you have to lower taxes. If there was an asteroid on its way to Earth. They’d all come into a room and say, you know what we need, we need tax cuts for the rich.”
He said Democrats had a “serious response to serious problems.”
Violent crime has increased over the past seven years, not just in the last two years, not only in liberal states, but also conservative, rural states. That’s a serious problem,” Obama said.
‘Who will fight to protect you and your family? The Republican politicians who want to flood our streets with more guns? Who actually voted against more resources for our police forces?” Obama asked.
He used that moment to crack the ‘police and robbers’.
The crowd was warmed up by a local radio DJ to oldies, hip-hop and go-go beats — and audiences were asked to yell if they were attending an HBCU — historically black colleges and universities.
Obama arrived in the Peach State on the heels of Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, who warned Biden that Democrats were in trouble in Georgia, a state Biden narrowly beat Trump in the 2020 race.
“The state where we’re going downhill is Georgia. It’s hard to believe they’re going for Herschel Walker,” Schumer said on a tarmac road in Syracuse on Thursday.
In the Georgia Senate race, former University of Georgia and NFL great Walker, the Trump-backed Republican, will face Warnock, the Democrat and senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, who won his seat in a special election and then a second round in January 2021.
Former President Barack Obama will make his ’22 campaign debut Friday night in Atlanta, Georgia. Here he is photographed at a drive-in rally stumping for then-candidate Joe Biden in October 2020
Obama will bolster the campaigns of Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock (left) and hopeful Democratic Governor Stacey Abrams (right) in Atlanta. Warnock is in a tight race against Republican football star Herschel Walker as Abrams tries to oust GOP governor Brian Kemp
Warnock is now running for a full six-year term.
FiveThirtyEight.com considers: it’s a real toss-up, giving Walker a 52 percent chance of winning, versus Warnock’s 48 percent.
Walker’s run has been plagued by allegations that he’d asked previous girlfriends for abortions, despite saying he’s pro-life, but his dramatic personal life hasn’t dragged him down significantly in the polls.
Abrams is in a 2018 rematch against Republican government Brian Kemp.
Recent polls show that the prominent Democratic suffrage pro has fallen significantly, with the Real Clear Politics polling average Kemp 7.4 points lead.
Kemp has retained GOP support despite Trump overruling Georgia’s 2020 election result – and has attracted independents, with Rasmussen gives him a 17-point lead about Abrams among unaffiliated voters, according to a poll released Thursday.
After Atlanta, Obama will campaign in Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday and travel to Nevada and Pennsylvania next week.
The ex-president will campaign alongside Democratic Michigan government Gretchen Whitmer, who is being challenged by Republican Tudor Dixon.
And then he’ll try to help the Wisconsin Democratic Senate hopeful Mandela Barnes, who lost his lead in his race against incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
Schumer told Biden he thought things were going up in Nevada, but Obama will travel there to support the campaigns of incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is going up against Republican Adam Laxalt and Democratic Gov. challenged by Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
In Pennylvania, Obama is expected to reunite with Biden, who served as his vice president, to help Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who ran for the state’s open Senate seat and act after a tough debate.
Obama will also punch for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro, who polls show he has a healthy lead over Republican Doug Mastriano.
In 2020, Biden sent Obama to Florida — a state he lost to Trump — and Pennsylvania, which he reversed from 2016.
Obama took the opportunity to cheerfully go after Trump.
This time there is no obvious bogeyman — as Obama will be tasked with bragging about Democratic achievements in the face of rising inflation and crime, two things Republicans have used to their advantage.
President Obama has always been a common thread connecting the Democratic coalition: highly educated voters, women, suburban voters and African Americans. In an environment where turnout and enthusiasm are a priority, surrogates like President Obama are invaluable on the path,” explains Democratic strategist Joel Payne, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
And Obama knows how difficult midterm elections can be for the party that controls the White House, as he called his own 2010 outburst a “shellacking.”
That year, the Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate, with Republicans successfully reversing control of the House of Representatives.
The Democrats later lost control of the Senate during the 2014 midterms during Obama’s second term.
The Democrats regained control of the House in 2018, in an interim rebuke from Trump, and gained control of the Senate after Warnock and fellow Democrat from Georgia, Senator Jon Ossoff, won their second race on January 5, 2021.