Moments after a federal judge denied Georgia election officials’ efforts to throw out midterm absentee ballots with signatures not matching other records, former President Barack Obama stood on stage with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and ripped into Republicans, especially President Donald Trump and Abrams’ opponent Brian Kemp.
The rally at the historically black Morehouse College drew almost 7,000 people — including actor Chris Tucker and rapper 2 Chainz — into the echoey gymnasium, where energy for the former president, and the moment for Georgia Democrats, was substantial, according to organizers.
Obama is sweeping across the country stumping for Democratic candidates and his presence in the Peach State marks newfound confidence for Democrats in a traditionally red state. Polls indicate Abrams and Kemp are virtually tied.
“Georgia, be unafraid,” he implored the largely African-American audience.
Kemp, Georgia’s top election official as current secretary of state, lost his attempt to block a court’s order to allow ballots with mismatched signatures just earlier in the day.
“You win the right to vote, folks are still trying to take it away,” Obama exclaimed. “That’s what they’re doing in Georgia right now.”
He riled up the crowd by citing from a snippet of audio published by Rolling Stone in October which appears to have captured Kemp saying Abrams’ voter-turnout efforts “is something that continues to concern us especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote, which they absolutely can.”
Obama claimed Kemp’s remark suggested a contempt with voting rights, which the Republican has fervently denied.
The two-term president said Tuesday’s midterms “may be the most important election of our lifetime.”
“And that’s saying something because some of those elections were mine,” he added.
He called Republican political actions and rhetoric damaging the country and encouraged his audience to vote Democrat up and down the ballot.
“The character of our country is on the ballot.”
Laying out a vision for Georgia, Obama endorsed some pillars of Abrams’ campaign promises, including increased investment in public education, expanding Obamacare and investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure.
He tore into efforts in Washington, D.C., to repeal the Affordable Care Act and called out Republican flip-flops on pre-existing conditions.
Policy often takes center stage at Abrams events, but Obama, without naming President Trump or congressional leaders, focused on inflammatory rhetoric and political string-pulling just prior to the midterms.
“The biggest threat to America? The biggest threat, is some impoverished refuges a thousand miles away?” he said referencing the “caravan” of migrants from Central American making their way through Mexico to the U.S. border.
“Now they’re sending our brave troops. Who by the way, by the wall cannot enforce laws on our natural soil.”
“The men and women of our military deserve better than that.”
Before concluding, he moved on to the President’s surprising, and false, claim that he can use an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States, a constitutional right for Americans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan strayed from president in an interview earlier this week, saying birthright citizenship cannot be taken away via executive order.
Trump will be in Georgia on Sunday rallying for Brian Kemp.