In a race that the Cook Political Report currently considers a tossup, former President Barack Obama urged Hoosiers not to fall for the GOP’s attempts to distract from issues and backed a Democratic candidate who has sometimes strayed from party lines.
Speaking at a rally in Indiana for Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is in a highly competitive race with Republican challenger Mike Braun, Obama praised the Democrat for his honesty.
“Joe Donnelly and I didn’t agree all the time, but Joe always let me know where he stood and I knew what he believed in and that he was always focused on what’s the best thing for the Hoosiers that he served. And he was honest and he was direct, so you can count on that. That’s what you want. You don’t just want a yes man all the time,” Obama told the crowd.
Braun, a steadfast Trump supporter, has campaigned as a businessman and outsider who is tired of career politicians. Braun has criticized Donnelly for backing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, voting against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and supporting the Iran-nuclear deal.
But Donnelly isn’t the most liberal candidate, either. He has campaigned on his support for President Trump’s border wall, condemned the “radical left” and even quoted former President Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” Cold War motto.
The obvious ideological differences between Donnelly and Obama made it somewhat unusual to see the former president at the rally in Gary, Ind. — 28 miles southeast of his adopted hometown of Chicago. But Obama made clear he wanted voters to support the Democratic candidate.
Obama chastised Republican politicians who claim to worry about the direction Trump has taken the country but fail to confront the president in any meaningful way. He called these Republicans “yes men” for the Trump administration.
Despite Donnelly’s support for the border wall, Trump on Friday criticized the Democrat’s voting record — which includes voting against repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
“You’re going to beat Joe Donnelly. You have to, because we need the votes. We need the votes,” Trump said at a rally in Evansville in southern Indiana to stump for Braun. “You’re not going to get — Joe is not going to vote for us on anything.”
At the rally in Gary, Obama accused Republicans of exaggerating threats. He recalled that some Republicans claimed that Obamacare would establish death panels “to kill your grandma” in 2010, exaggerated the threat that Ebola faced to the American people in 2014, and blew the Hillary Clinton email controversy out of proportion in 2016.
In the run-up to the midterms on Tuesday, Obama said, Republicans are once again using fear as a political tactic by portraying the caravan of refugees traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border as a threat to America’s national sovereignty.
“They’re telling us that the single most grave threat to America is a bunch of poor impoverished, broke, hungry refugees a thousand miles away. That’s the thing that’s really going to threaten Gary, Indiana,” he said.
Obama said Americans would be better served if politicians focused on job creation, health care, education and gun violence.
“Unfortunately, sometimes these tactics of scaring people and making stuff up work.”
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