MILWAUKEE — Former President Barack Obama said in the 2018 midterm elections the character of the country is at stake.
Speaking at a rally for Democratic candidates in Wisconsin on Friday, Obama argued that Democrats are the better option over Republicans, accusing the latter of lying to Americans about their policies and being hypocritical in their calls for civility.
“The consequences of anybody sitting out of this election are profound because America’s at a crossroads right now. … Maybe most of all, the character of our country is on the ballot.”
He later admitted that “one election won’t fix everything.”
Obama pointed to Republicans' statements about protecting the pre-existing conditions mandate under the Affordable Care Act, saying, "This is not spin. That’s not exaggeration. That’s not trying to put a positive glow on things. That’s lying.”
President Trump has tried to portray the Republican Party as committed to saving the mandate, but in a tweet Wednesday overlooked his own administration backing a lawsuit that would repeal protections for pre-existing conditions. The mandate has been one of the most popular pillars of the law.
"What we have not seen before, in our recent public life at least, is politicians just blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly lying,” Obama said.
Obama also pointed to Trump's revving up concern about a caravan of thousands of migrants headed to the U.S. from Honduras.
“You know, as soon as the election's over, everybody will be like, 'What, what happened? We were being invaded. Where'd it go?'" Obama said. “We’ve got to stop falling for this stuff. We’re like Charlie Brown with the football. … Don't fall for that kind of fear-mongering."
The migrants are still about a month away from reaching the Texas border, and Trump has demanded that the caravan turn around and threatened to cut aid to countries who fail to stop the migrants from heading toward the U.S.
Republicans have been inconsistent in holding those in power accountable, Obama said. He questioned why Republicans made a fuss over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server but have not caused an uproar over Trump using his personal cellphone to make calls to his friends. The New York Times reported Wednesday that Chinese spies are often listening to Trump’s calls, despite the president being warned that his cellphone calls are not secure.
He also painted Trump as a hypocrite in his response to this week's pipe bombs, though he did not directly address the explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats in recent days, of which Obama is one, or directly blame Trump for rhetoric against the media and the opposing party.
"I'm hoping you think it's wrong to hear people spend years, months, vilifying people, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people — and then suddenly you're concerned about civility? Please,” Obama said.