President Barack Obama shifted into full election campaign mode Wednesday, accusing Republicans of trying to dupe middle class American voters about the economy and prey on their fears.
Democrat Obama ditched his suit jacket and rolled-up his shirt sleeves for an hour-long partisan political speech in a predominantly Republican district of Indiana, a battleground state in the heart of America’s hard-hit rust belt.
Obama leaves office in January next year, and with each passing week wades ever deeper into the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Americans going to the polls November 8 will likely have to choose whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton should replace Obama in the White House.
The cerebral 44th president has scarcely concealed his contempt for the brusque, tough-talking Republican.
On Wednesday, Obama took another shot, lambasting Republicans — read Trump — for propagating “myths” about the state of the economy, that immigrants are taking US jobs, and that the United States is getting licked by trade rivals.
“The primary story that Republicans have been telling about the economy is not supported by the facts. It’s just not,” he said.
He later told a town hall meeting broadcast by PBS that Trump’s prescription to fix the economy by negotiating better trade deals or stopping immigration had enticed some, but were illusory.
“If people are feeling insecure and they are offered a simple reason for how they can feel more secure, people are going to be tempted by it,” Obama admitted.
“He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal,’ Obama continued. “Well how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”
Obama’s recent high poll ratings all but secure him a central role in the effort to secure a third White House term for Democrats.
He could be pivotal in getting African-American voters to head to the polls, and in motivating a Democratic base that at times seems lukewarm to Clinton.
Trump’s electoral hopes lie in tapping into the deep anguish across huge parts of America, which has never fully recovered from the Great Recession.
During Obama’s time in office the crisis has abated, and jobs and growth have returned, but wages have stagnated and inequality is rampant.