PHILADELPHIA — Former President Barack Obama laced into his successor Donald Trump on Wednesday, casting the race for the White House as a fight for the nation’s future amidst a resurgent pandemic.
“The president spent some time in Erie last night and apparently he complained about having to travel here,” Obama said at the drive-in campaign event at Citizens Bank Park. “I don’t feel that way. I love coming to Pennsylvania. You guys delivered for me twice and I am back here tonight to ask you to deliver the White House for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
The former president contrasted the two candidates looking to take control of the executive branch.
“I’ve sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president,” Obama said. “And they are very different people.”
Obama blasted Trump’s presidency and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by comparing Trump’s treatment of the office to that of a reality show.
“But the thing is, this is not a reality show – this is reality,” Obama said. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him, proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously. At least 220,000 Americans have died. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed. Millions of jobs are gone. Our proud reputation around the world is in tatters.”
While Obama acknowledged the difficulty that the pandemic would present for any administration, he went further in condemning Trump’s management despite the Obama administration leaving a “playbook” to handle pandemics. He even referenced Trump’s own run-in with the virus.
“We don’t know where that playbook went. Eight months into this pandemic cases are rising again across this country. Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us,” Obama said. “He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”
From Trump’s tax plan to reports about Trump’s own taxes and his alleged secret Chinese bank account, Obama continued to make the case against a second Trump term to voters.
“Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for reelection? You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that,” Obama said. “They would have called me ‘Beijing Barry.’”
Obama did not mince words regarding other Trump administration officials either.
“You’ve got the education department that’s supposed to give every kid a chance, and that’s run by a billionaire who guts rules designed to protect students from getting ripped off by for profit colleges, and stiff arm students looking for loan relief in the middle of an economic collapse,” Obama said.
The former president re-emphasized the importance of Nov. 3 on the future of the country.
“Philadelphia, we got 13 days,” Obama said. “That’s our lucky number right here. 13 days until the most important election of our lifetimes.”
Touting his former running mate’s moniker, Obama endorsed the “Scrappy Kid from Scranton.”
“And I can tell you the presidency doesn’t change who you are,” Obama said. “It reveals who you are. And Joe has shown himself to be a friend of working people.”
Obama highlighted several plans from the Biden campaign that he claims will help Pennsylvanians.
“Joe’s got a plan to create 10 million good clean energy jobs as part of a historic $2 trillion investment to fight climate change to secure environmental justice, and he’ll pay for it by rolling back that tax cut for billionaires,” Obama said.
Finally, Obama talked directly to voters who may be feeling disenfranchised by the lack of speedy change and question the efficacy of voting.
“I understand why a lot of Americans can get frustrated by government, and can feel like it does not make a difference,” Obama said.
However, he challenged that assertion by lowering expectations from perfect to better. Obama acknowledged the stakes for Democrats in the state as well.
“In Pennsylvania, you’ve just got to flip nine seats in your state house, just five seats in your state Senate to give democrats control. And new life policies don’t make a real difference to working families right now.”
As the speech came to a close, Obama made a fitting revision to his all-too-familiar tagline.
“Honk, if you’re fired up,” Obama said. “Honk if you’re ready to go.”
Kenny Cooper is a Hearken Election SOS Fellow helping the Capital-Star cover the 2020 election. Follow him on Twitter on @Kenny_Cooper_Jr.