Though Barack Obama reportedly planned on remaining on the sidelines for the first election following his presidency, he interrupted that schedule on Wednesday for his first in-person campaign event of the 2020 cycle. In Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold in perhaps the swing state of the election, Obama came out to urge Pennsylvanians at a drive-in rally to vote for his former vice-president. In doing so, he provided some of his most clear indictments of his successor in the White House yet.
“He hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends,” Obama said of Trump, before a rally of about 300 cars. “This is not a reality show. This is reality, and the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”
President 44 made a pointed argument against 45 and his tendency to promote successes he did not achieve and divert the blame for his administrations own failures. “I get that this president wants full credit for the economy that he inherited, and zero blame for the pandemic he ignored. But the job doesn’t work that way. Tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t make people’s lives better. You’ve got to have a plan.”
While the former president relayed a more cautious message in his speech at the digital Democratic National Convention in August, he brought a humorous tone at times in his speech on Wednesday:
And though he had been off the campaign trail since his appearances to help “build [the] party’s bench” in the midterms, he was able to promptly summon the tone that won him the Democratic nomination as a first-term senator:
In an interview with CNN, former Obama adviser and current network commentator David Axelrod provided some context for the decision to campaign for Biden — after receiving advice from both Bush presidents to stay out of the race immediately following his time in office. “Former presidents tend not to delve too deeply into politics and certainly not the politics of their successors,” Axelrod said. “I think that was his plan, but Trump changed that plan.”
That old plan will remain on hold for at least a few more days: Shortly after he received benevolent honks at his drive-in rally in Philadelphia, the Biden campaign announced that Obama would appear in Miami on Saturday to help boost his VP’s chances of winning another crucial electoral college piece.