The midterm elections have never been a strong case for Barack Obama.
During his time in the White House, the 2010 and 2014 campaign seasons were among the lowest points of his presidency, as Democratic control swept first the House and then the Senate in some of the most modest defeats of his time.
“I don’t recommend to any future president that they get a felony hit like I did,” Obama said a day after Democrats lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives midway through his first term. “I’m sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons.”
But as a former president, Obama is in high demand in the final round of this election, opening a five-state tour here in Georgia on Friday night. He hopes to slow the prospect of a wave of Republicans who could face a similar fate to his longtime ally, President Joe Biden, who is also on the trail and making a rare joint appearance with Vice President Kamala Harris in Philadelphia.
Obama has shot nearly two dozen TV commercials for Democrats and the party’s campaign committees, with new ads appearing nearly every day this week. And he has handled the final details of several candidates for secretary of state and lent his name to fundraising efforts for those post-vote contests he believes are critical to protecting democracy.
“It’s going to be a close race and we can’t afford to screw it up,” Obama said in an ad for Cheri Beasley, the Democratic Senate candidate in North Carolina, one of the few personalized messages he’s recorded for the candidates at large. corners of the country.
After Friday’s trip to Atlanta, the former president will visit key battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday, followed by a trip to Nevada on Tuesday. He is then scheduled to return to Pennsylvania for the final weekend of the campaign, hoping to rally Democrats and boost turnout in the final days of early voting leading up to the Nov. 8 election.
Democratic Representative Nikema Williams, who is also the chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said the former president has a unique ability to motivate and advocate for Democrats.
“A lot of people here call him their eternal president,” Williams, who represents Atlanta, Georgia’s 5th district, told CNN. “We were trying to encourage people to go out early and vote. He can help us drive that message home and drive it home, not just to our base, but to younger voters who remember some of the excitement of his election.”
Like many two-term presidents, Obama’s record has always been much better when his name was on the ballot. Still, he remains in high demand from Democratic candidates, many of whom are reluctant to ask for campaign appearances or TV spots with Biden, who has a 41 percent approval rating in CNN polls.
To date, Obama’s involvement in the midterm elections has been primarily through campaign registrations and fundraising events in August and September for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Reorganization Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee.
In that speech to some of the party’s biggest donors, the former president warned of threats to democracy in the Trump era.
“One of the things we’ve learned in the last six years is that democracy is not self-regulating,” Obama said at a fundraiser in New York last month.
He raised his concerns during a recent interview with Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by a quartet of longtime aides from his presidential campaign and administration.
“Democracy is fragile. You’ve got to go for it, you’ve got to fight for it,” Obama said. “And this midterm election, I think, is going to be a moment where that fight has to be joined, and that means people have to show up. .”
In the wake of the chaos caused by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud following his defeat in the 2020 presidential election and the number of Trump Deniers in key states across the country in the Secretary of State race.
It’s not unusual for a former president to campaign for major election candidates, but Obama’s entry into the secretary of state races shows how some Democrats are criticizing the office, given that the winners will control key election infrastructure in 2024.
“Given the high stakes of this year’s midterm elections, President Obama wants to do his part to help the Democrats win next month,” said Eric Shultz, a senior adviser to the former president. “He looks forward to defeating candidates on the ballot, especially in races and states that will have ramifications for the 2024 election administration.”
The former president also focused on key races in the Senate, where he served for two years before winning the White House. As with his time in the Oval Office, control of the Senate will hang in the balance in November.
A recent ad for Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said: “Your voice can make a difference on issues ranging from abortion rights to voting rights. That’s why you need leaders like Maggie to fight for you.”
And to voters in Pennsylvania, where the open Senate seat is one of the closest races in the country, Obama urged voters to support the state’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
“When the fate of our democracy and a woman’s right to choose is at stake, I know John will fight for the people of Pennsylvania,” Obama said. “You can count on John Fetterman. Make sure he can count on you.”
For Obama, appearances in ads and upcoming campaign stops are among the most visible steps in his return to politics. He acknowledges the headwinds facing the Democratic Party, aides told CNN, and is mindful of the limits of his ability to weather the tides of history, where the president’s party almost always loses seats in the midterms, as it has in years past. 2010 and 2014.
His visit comes after he already made a personal vote alongside First Lady Michelle Obama last week in Chicago, which will remain their official residence and where they are building the Obama Presidential Library.
After thanking election workers for their important role in the democratic process, Obama picked up his ballot and waxed nostalgic about how ballots were once dropped on a punch card that strongly encouraged direct voting.
“You know, I miss the boxing thing, it was fun,” Obama said with a smile. “You can pull off an attack.”