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Obama: US Government 'Not for Sale'

Former President Barack Obama greets supporters as he campaigns in support of California congressional candidates, Sept. 8, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday told attendees at a Democratic rally that the United States government "is a government for everybody. It's not for sale."

Obama has maintained a low public profile since leaving office, but with midterm elections coming in November, he spoke Saturday at an Anaheim, California, rally in support of Democratic candidates in districts won by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"We are bound by the notion that this is a government of and by and for the people," he said. "We don't have a situation where some are more equal than others."

"The stakes are high in this election," Obama warned, referring to the congressional elections that will be seen as a referendum on the presidential administration of Donald Trump and Republican rule in Washington. "This is a consequential moment in our history. And the fact is that if we don't step up, things can get worse. ... But the good news is, in two months we have a chance to restore some sanity in our politics."

Obama also said the biggest threat to U.S. democracy is not one individual, nor is it wealthy political supporters.

"It's apathy," he said. "It's indifference. It's us not doing what we're supposed to do."

On Friday, Obama made his first appearance in the midterm election battle, in a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he accepted an ethics in government award. He told the students in the audience: "You need to vote because our democracy depends on it."

The former president said the current state of Washington politics "did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years — a fear and anger that's rooted in our past but is also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."

Trump was dismissive of Obama's speech. At a fundraiser in North Dakota, the U.S. president told a crowd of supporters: "I watched it, but I fell asleep."