Midterm elections are almost always about the sitting president, especially when they are unpopular. But in a unique twist this year, two former presidents who lost control of the House of Representatives while in office became closing messengers for their parties.
Barack Obama and Donald Trump embody two opposing visions of what America itself means, and are prolonging their bitter years-long duel as they find themselves in America’s democratic future in the opposite of a profound confrontation.
Obama remains the personification of progressive change and an increasingly diverse country more popular than incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden. He’s the most sought-after political firefighter for Democrats struggling to survive in a heated state race and used to inspire young, minority and suburban middle-class voters.
Trump has mobilized his “Make America Great Again” movement, which first emerged as a backlash against the first black president, and was built on the notion that a predominantly white The cultural values of working-class countries are being influenced by political correctness, undocumented immigrants, experts and institutions.
Trump is the most prominent representative of Obama’s denunciation of politicians, celebrities and sports stars who peddled conspiracy theories, fear and social media “garbage.” He’s using his 2020 election lies as a platform to lash out at protégés of the 45th president — like Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Cary Lake.
“Why would you vote for someone you know isn’t telling the truth? I mean, I don’t care how well they say things that matter. I don’t care how steady they are, I don’t care how good they are,” Obama Speaking of the former local TV news anchor in Arizona on Wednesday, he said he has become a rising MAGA star.
“What happens when the truth doesn’t matter anymore?” Obama added. “If you’re just repeating something over and over, it’s a lie, but because of what you’re saying around you, it’s okay.”
Trump used that tactic when he returned to the Iowa campaign on Thursday night, ostensibly with the appearance of old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, but it felt like the nation’s first in 2024. Core group warm-up.
He lied about winning Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the two states that helped Biden win the White House, in 2020.
“Your favorite president is screwed,” Trump told his crowd on a chilly night in Sioux City, in which he repeated Obama’s false plot to spy on his campaign in 2016.
An interesting comparison of Trump and Obama’s styles at rival rallies is their use of humor. Trump has long used comedy — often dark and brutal — to connect himself to audiences, a trait that hasn’t always been on TV. Usually, his crowds look like they’re spending their time, fascinated by a rule-breaking bull in a china shop, destroying etiquette with every word of his and tearing it apart with outrageous accusations and demeaning nicknames. his opponent.
Trump digressed in a dystopian speech on Thursday as a biting wind blew around the teleprompter, showing his prepared speech.
“I had these teleprompters waving like a flag,” he said. “I’m getting seasick!”
Obama’s humor is generally warmer, though less poignant, and he uses it effectively to mock Republicans before delivering a devastating political blow. In Wisconsin, for example, last weekend when he accused Sen. Ron Johnson of voting for tax breaks for private jet owners, he called Republicans the party of the rich.
“He fought for it. Then his adult children bought not one, not two, but three private jets because obviously carpooling wasn’t an option. Now, I mean, you need three ?” Obama joked.
Those in Obama’s wider circle say their former boss has been on fire this campaign season. Unlike his former vice president, Obama has no burden of the presidency, and he has displayed a free and relish for large political rallies that earned him the Democratic nomination in 2008.
It’s easy to see when the 44th president isn’t fully committed to his mission. For example, he was lethargic and tired during the early rallies of his 2012 campaign, and his campaign was not at its best in a non-annual election in Virginia last year.
But his rallies this year were filled with a pulsating energy and enthusiasm that the current president, an older, more traditional politician, often lacks in his appearances. Obama also delivered a more relevant and targeted economic message than Biden—ironically, the role he played for the current president was the same as another former president, Bill Clinton, for him in the 2012 campaign. The role is the same — a service that led Obama to call the 42nd president “the chief commentator.”
Obama’s oratory talent is undiminished, and he seems to enjoy showing off. He’s making a comeback like a long-retired basketball star who suddenly starts draining the 3-pointer. His popularity means he has access to the most critical states where candidates escaping Biden’s unpopularity would not welcome a visit by the president.
Yet Obama’s prominence is a reminder that the modern Democratic Party lacks that kind of top-notch political talent. It’s an indictment whose best messenger first ran for president 14 years ago.
But as influential as his rhetoric was, the question now is how effectively Obama will push the vote. The former president has often worked hard to convert his stardust into other Democratic candidates and smaller talents during his tenure. And the question in this election is whether he’s just preaching to Democrats who already plan to vote, or whether he’s really selling to independents and disaffected anti-Trump Republicans that Biden desperately needs to show up to vote for him ‘s political party.
David Axelrod, a former Obama political strategist who is now a CNN commentator, said his party was using the one-time boss for a specific election mission.
“In general, this is when you’re trying to get your base out, which is very important for Democrats because the reason incumbent parties usually lose in midterm elections is that their base isn’t as motivated as the outgoing ones. tend to vote for the party it is dissatisfied with,” Axelrod said. “At least in the polls, there’s an enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats.”
While Obama is rekindling memories of past presidencies, Trump is seeking to lay the groundwork for future presidencies.
The most recent former president has demonstrated that he still has extraordinary control over the Republican Party by promoting and supporting the list of candidates in the image of him rejecting the election. One question, however, is whether Trump’s role in orchestrating inexperienced or extreme candidates, such as Senatorial candidates such as Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz, Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Arizona’s Blake Masters, would cost his party key swing states that would determine control of the Senate.
Republican officials have worried throughout the election cycle that the former president is putting his political ambitions ahead of his party. Many still accuse him of false accusations of voter fraud that helped two Democrats, Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, win Senate seats in the Georgia runoff, allowing their parties to vote in the vice president’s tiebreaker With the help of President Kamala Harris, the House controls 50-50.
When he traveled to the country again, Trump didn’t hold as many rallies as he usually does in the most competitive states. The GOP has managed to shift the election focus over the past few weeks to Biden, high inflation and economic anxiety scaring voters.
But there are growing signs that Trump may not wait too long to announce a 2024 bid, especially since he has already said he will use the presidential campaign to promote the confrontation he faces with his March bid. Legal investigation into the hoarding of classified documents at home – a-Lago and its actions leading to the riots at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as evidence of a witch hunt.
“They’re weaponizing the Justice Department,” Trump said at Thursday’s rally, accusing Democrats of crimes he committed while in the White House and treating the attorney general as his personal lawyer.
Kellyanne Conway, a former Trump White House senior adviser, praised the former president for not taking his eyes off the GOP’s midterm message, a decision that could reward him with a radical Republican House majority that he could take advantage of Weakening the Biden election by 2024.
“He’s wanted to do this for a long time. … I think you can expect him to announce soon,” Conway said of Trump’s expected campaign. “Some are urging him to still have a surprise in November.”
“Donald Trump is just getting started. I think you should keep your phone on,” Conway told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Thursday.
The former president used his rally in Iowa to make fun of a new campaign.
“I’ll be very, very, very likely to do it again,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
If he follows through, this midterm election is unlikely to be the last time Trump and Obama will face each other on the campaign trail.