Making his return to the campaign trail on behalf of fellow Democrats with just a week and a half to go until Election Day, former President Barack Obama is on a mission.
“I am here to ask you to vote,” the former president told approximately 7,000 people packed into an arena steps away from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.
And pointing to the nearly 1.4 people who’ve voted already cast ballots in early voting — a midterm record in Georgia — Obama on Friday evening emphasized: “You don’t have to wait until Nov. 8 to cast you ballot. You can vote right now.”
Obama, who remains the most popular person in the Democratic Party nearly six years after he left the White House, is trying to perform some last-minute political magic as Democrats desperately try to hold onto their razor-thin congressional majorities in the midterm elections. The former president is headlining rallies in five states holding key Senate and gubernatorial races.
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The former two-term president kicked off his efforts in the key southeastern battleground state of Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, is running for a full six-year term in the Senate.
The latest polls indicate support for Warnock is within a margin of error compared to GOP challenger Herschel Walker, a former college and professional football star. The race is one of a handful across the country that will likely determine if the Republicans win back the Senate majority.
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Obama was also in Georgia to boost Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, the voting rights champion who’s challenging GOP Gov. Brian Kemp in a rematch of their 2018 showdown. Polls indicate the conservative governor with an upper single digit lead over Abrams.
With Democrats facing historical headwinds — the party that wins the White House traditionally suffers major setbacks in the ensuing midterm elections — and a rough political climate fueled by record inflation, soaring crime and a border crisis and accentuated by President Biden’s rebounding but still underwater approval ratings, Obama’s mission is to try to energize the party’s base.
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Ahead of Friday evening’s rally, supporters lined up to pass through security to enter the arena told Fox News they believed Obama would succeed in his mission.
“A lot of people right now are in doubt but I’m thinking if he gives the speech that I’m thinking he’s going to give, I think it will make a big difference. I think it will make a big difference in our community,” Yvette told Fox News.
Gladys shared that “I think him rallying behind our Democratic candidates really does motivate the general public to get out there and vote.”
Diane said “I think he’s still so influential still in politics in Georgia and elsewhere,” and John added “I think you can just look around and see the excitement of people here to see him and there’s no doubt in my mind that him coming here will help. I wish he’d come more often.”
But Kyle, who’s also a major supporter of the former president, noted that “as much as I love Obama, voting in these midterms is a lot more important than him and frankly any president because at the end of the day, no matter who sits in the White House, what they want to do doesn’t matter unless they have a House and a Senate to back them.”
Following his stop in Georgia, Obama campaigns in the Midwestern swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday. The former two-term president heads to the purple state of Nevada on Tuesday, and the crucial northeastern battleground of Pennsylvania on Nov. 5.
Four of the states Obama is visiting hold high-stakes Senate elections that will likely determine which party will control the chamber’s majority going forward, and four hold high-profile gubernatorial contests.