Former President Barack Obama speaks during a rally in Detroit on Friday. (AP)
Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump’s tenure in office Friday in a fiery speech in Milwaukee that took aim at him and other Republicans for “making stuff up”.
The speech was one of Obama’s sharpest and most direct takedowns of Trump’s presidency, although the former president was careful to never mention Trump by name.
Obama cited a recent Trump comment that he would pass a tax cut before the November election. Obama then told the crowd in a Milwaukee high school gymnasium that “Congress isn’t even in session! He just makes it up!”
At one point Obama said: “Here’s the thing. Everything I say you can look up.”
Obama’s visit in Milwaukee was to urge people to vote for Wisconsin’s Democratic candidates. While Trump was frequently the target of his criticism, he didn’t spare Republicans generally and said they are lying when they say they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions while trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“What we have not seen before …. is politicians just blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly, lying. Making stuff up,” Obama said. “Calling up, down. Calling black, white. That’s what your governor is doing with these ads, just making stuff up,” he said, referring to Gov. Scott Walker and his assertions that he wants to protect health care for those with pre-existing conditions.
Walker is being challenged by Democrat Tony Evers.
Obama then used the subject of Hillary Clinton’s private email server to accuse Republicans of trying to “scare the heck out of people before every election” and also to mock Trump about the Chinese spying on his cellphone.
“In the last election, it was Hillary’s emails. ‘This is terrible’ … ‘This is a national security crisis.’ They didn’t care about emails and you know how you know? Because if they did, they’d be up in arms right now that the Chinese are listening to the president’s iPhone that he leaves in his golf cart.”
Obama spoke about the slow-moving migrant caravan from Central American bound for the United States as another example of a Republican scare tactic.
“Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away,” he said. “That’s the thing that is the most important thing in this election,” he said. “Not health care, not whether or not folks are able to retire, doing something about higher wages, rebuilding our roads and bridges and putting people back to work.”
“Suddenly,” he continued, changing his voice to a high-pitch to strike a mocking tone, “it’s these group of folks. We don’t even know where they are. They’re right down there.”
Referring to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp,” Obama said that instead “they have gone to Washington and just plundered away.”
“In Washington, they have racked up enough indictments to field a football team,” he said. “Nobody in my administration got indicted.”
Obama’s visit to Milwaukee was the first time he was in the city for a political event since March 2016, when he came to celebrate enrollment numbers in the Affordable Care Act. He didn’t campaign for Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, a state she narrowly lost that proved crucial to Trump becoming president.
Later Friday, Obama will hold another rally in Michigan, another battleground state in the Midwest that Democrats lost in 2016.