Obama implores Californians to vote and ‘restore some sanity in our politics

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This gloves-off performance portends a return to Obama's "fired up and ready to go" campaign style and underscores his conviction that the midterm truly is "the most important election of his lifetime".

"This is not normal", he added later.

But on Friday, before accepting an award at the University of IL, he delved in headfirst. The award is named for Senator Paul H. Thomas, who represented IL from 1949 to 1967, according to the school's website.

In his speech, Obama specifically cited Trump having already put pressure on his AG to use the criminal justice system "as a cudgel to punish political opponents", and declared that a United States President should not "threaten freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don't like".

But from the start of his 23-minute speech, Mr. Obama, wearing a white shirt with an open collar, made clear he had set himself a different task: He was there to promote the candidacies of Democrats here and across the country trying to win Republican seats. "We have the chance to flip the House of Representatives and make sure there are real checks and balances in Washington", Obama said.

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Obama also accused Republicans of giving tax cuts to the rich, taking away healthcare from millions, and rejecting scientific facts behind climate change.

Obama will share the billing with seven Democratic candidates in competitive U.S. House districts across California.

Obama's speech, like much Democratic Party rhetoric of late, was heavily anti-Trump - but also rather light on solutions.

Casting aside the typical low profile of a former president, Mr Obama returned to the campaign trail on Friday in IL to help Democrats running in the upcoming midterm elections.

"It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say that we don't target groups of people because of what they look like or how they pray", Obama said. "But what they understood is, the stakes are high in this election". "I found he's very good - very good for sleeping!"

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Mr Trump, asked about that speech during a trip to North Dakota, quipped that he had watched it but had fallen asleep. He will spend this Saturday in California stumping for seven congressional candidates at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event and will head to OH next week to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray. "How hard can it be", Obama questioned, "saying that Nazis are bad?"

Obama's criticism extended beyond Trump, to the party he now leads, the Republican-led Congress and members of his Administration.

Obama told the students that Trump is a "symptom" of a mentality among some elected officials, citing "a fear and anger that's rooted in our past".

Also, Obama has been known to be unsuccessful in transferring votes of his supporter to other Democrats.

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