LAS VEGAS - Former President Barack Obama delivered a biting critique of Republicans in Washington and President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday but avoided mentioning his successor by name.
Obama, speaking at a rally in Las Vegas for Nevada Democrats, said Republicans had promised to “fight for the little guy” but instead helped corporations and sowed divisions in America.
Republicans in Congress “bend over backwards” instead of being “a check or a balance on this kind of corrupt politics,” the former president said.
Obama was in Nevada to drum up support for Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is in a tight race against incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller, and energize voters in the swing state who delivered big for Democrats in 2016 but stayed home during the midterm elections in 2014.
Obama, who won the state in 2008 and 2012, railed against the GOP tax law, efforts to repeal his Affordable Care Act, Trump’s attacks on the media, political pressure he’s put on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Obama also criticized Heller, saying, “the current senator, he doesn’t seem to be willing to stand up to this. He just goes along, even when you get a sense he knows it’s not right.”
Rosen, a first-term congresswoman, is seen as one of Democrats’ best opportunities to flip control of a Senate seat, though the party faces slim chances of taking control of the Senate.
She narrowly won election to her Las Vegas-area district in 2014 and is taking on a politician who not only has already won a statewide election but has never lost an election despite serving nearly three decades in public offices.
Democrats are also in a close battle for the governor’s office, which will oversee state and federal redistricting occurring after the 2020 census.
Obama’s rally included specific appeals to young people and Latinos, key demographics who can boost Democrat numbers if they participate. The rally at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas arena included performances from hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa and Columbian reggaeton star J Balvin and a speech from actress America Ferrera.
Obama said not voting this November would be “profoundly dangerous to this country, to our democracy.” He also reminded the crowd that the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden occurred under his watch and that the economic recovery that Trump often takes credit for started during his administration.
“When you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it,” Obama said.
Obama also touted the campaigns of Nevada gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak and U.S. House candidates Susie Lee and Steven Horsford.
Though Obama used his speech to say Republicans are rolling back the progress his administration made, the GOP on Monday responded with an identical criticism of Obama and Democrats.
Keelie Broom, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said “Nevada saw some of its darkest days as a result of relentless government overreach advanced by the Obama administration.”
“We’ve made incredible strides thanks to President Trump and our GOP-led Congress, and it’s insulting for Barack Obama to come out here and try to rally support for candidates like Jacky Rosen, Steve Sisolak, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford who will work to systematically dismantle the policies generating all of this progress.”
The event followed visits over the weekend by his former Vice President Joe Biden, who rallied with Democrats outside a union hall in Las Vegas, and a rally in the rural town of Elko by President Donald Trump.
The former president has generally kept a low profile since leaving office and has been selective about campaigning for Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.
Obama endorsed candidates up and down the ballot around the country, but in September, he broke with the traditional deference that past presidents show successors and gave a sharp critique of Trump.
In subsequent appearances for Democrats in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania, he avoided a similar reproach and instead focused on urging people to vote.