Former President Obama took the stage at a Pennsylvania rally on Friday in an effort to help Democrats regain control of Congress, stressing the need to vote in the midterms: “On Nov. 6, you have a chance to restore some sanity to our politics.”
While campaigning for Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf in a state that Donald Trump won in 2016, Obama told the crowd that the approaching election “is more important than any I can remember in my lifetime.”
The former president carried Pennsylvania in both of his presidential races, and Democrats hope the state can help them retake control of Congress from the GOP.
Noting that the coming elections are not for the White House, Obama highlighted a tendency among some constituents to sit on the sidelines and not vote.
In the wide-ranging speech, Obama continued to hammer home the necessity for people to not “take our basic rights for granted,” while taking aim at elected Republicans.
“The Republicans in Congress right now … they’re no check on the White House. They’re bending over backwards to shield … folks from scrutiny and accountability,” he said. “So look, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. You know this. Here’s the good news. On Nov. 6, you have a chance to restore some sanity to our politics.”
He went on to say that people across the political spectrum “should be concerned about the current course of this country,” apparently taking a subtle swipe at President Trump.
“You don’t have to be a Democrat or a Republican … to say that it’s not good to pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system to punish political enemies,” Obama said. “That’s what they do in some dictatorships. That’s not what we do here in the United States of America.”
“You don’t have to be a Democrat or a Republican to say we don’t threaten newspapers or TV stations if they publish stories we don’t like.”
He continued: “There were a whole bunch of stories I didn’t like; I didn’t threaten folks. I might just complain. I might say to Michelle, ‘Hey, that’s not fair.’”
Obama’s trip is the latest in a string of appearances before the midterms. The former president has endorsed more than 80 Democrats in more than a dozen states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.