Barack Obama has largely refrained from criticizing his successor, but that changed Friday in a speech at the University of Illinois. Some of the big lines from the speech, which is expected to be a theme of Obama's on the campaign trail before the midterms, as cited in the Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times, and Politico:
- “It did not start with Donald Trump,” Obama said, citing efforts by the "powerful and privileged" to divide the nation. “He is a symptom not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, the fear and anger that’s rooted in our past.”
- "We're supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers," he said, a reference to Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?"
- “The claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren’t following the president’s orders, this is not a check” on Trump, he said, referring to this week's anonymous op-ed. “I’m serious here. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this White House and then saying don’t worry we’re preventing the other 10%.”
- "It should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents. Or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up. I’m not making that up. That’s not hypothetical."
- “None of this is conservative,” Obama said. “It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. It’s a vision that says the protection of our power and those who back us is all that matters.”
- "I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who we are, what it is that we stand for," Obama said. "As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I’m here to deliver a simple message, which is that you need to vote, because our democracy depends on it."
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