Former President Barack Obama described Herschel Walker as “a great wannabe politician” during a speech Friday night in Georgia, praising the Republican Senate candidate as “one of the greatest running backs of all time.” ,” but an unarmed person. to be a United States senator.
Obama blasted Walker, calling him “someone who took a fake badge and said he’s as legal as a kid playing cops and robbers,” attacking his “personal issues” and “his habit of not talking. truth,” and describing him as someone who will be loyal to former President Donald Trump “means he’s not going to think about you or your needs.”
The speech, the former Democratic president’s first in the 2022 campaign, established the middle class as the choice “among politicians who seem willing to do anything to gain power.” and leaders who share our values, who see you and care about you.”
“Almost every Republican politician seems to be concerned with two things – having libs and getting Donald Trump’s approval,” Obama said. “It’s their agenda, it’s not long, it’s not difficult and, at least for me, it doesn’t inspire me much. They are not interested in solving problems. They are interested in making you angry and finding someone to blame. Because that way you might not realize that they don’t have their answers.”
Obama received a standing ovation inside the Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia. In several places, he gave one of his old campaign classics: “Don’t cry, vote!”
He acknowledged the economic problems facing Democrats in November, saying: “Listen, inflation is a real problem right now.” It’s not just America, it’s all over the world. It is one of the consequences of this epidemic. ”
But he suggested that Republicans have not yet given their policies or plans, saying: “Republicans talk a lot about it, but what is their answer? What are their economic policies?
However, Obama’s direct comments were aimed at Walker, calling his race against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, the key to controlling an equally divided Senate, “different education.”
The commentary opened with a eulogy for Walker, the University of Georgia football player who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982.
“Now there are many young people here, yes, that makes me happy. Some of you may not remember, but Herschel Walker was a football player,” Obama said. “In college, he was amazing. One of the best quarterbacks of all time. But here’s the question: Does that make him the best person to represent you in the US Senate? Does that make him better equipped to make critical decisions about our economy and our foreign policy and future? ours?”
Obama then joked that just because Walker won the Heisman, it didn’t mean the audience would let him fly a plane or perform surgery on them without knowing if he had letters.
“In fact, the opposite is also true. You might have liked me as president, but you didn’t want me to start over after the dogs,” he said. “I mean, can you imagine my slow, old skinny self after hit by a 300-pound defensive tackle who runs a 4.6 40 (yards per yard)? You would have to catch me in the field. No, I can’t. No, I can’t. I’m good at many things but that won’t be one of the things I’m good at. ”
But then Obama joined the Republican Party.
“There is little evidence that he has any interest, concern in learning anything or showing any kind of inclination towards community service or volunteer work or helping people through either way,” Obama said, later grilling Trump by arguing that Walker appeared to be “a celebrity who wants to be a politician and we’ll see how that goes.”
Obama then brought up Walker’s “personal issues,” apparently referring to allegations that he paid two women to terminate their pregnancies.
Walker, who has advocated for a statewide ban on abortion without exceptions, has denied the allegations.
Obama said Walker “was used to not telling the truth, used to say one thing and then do another, used to have certain rules for you and your important friends and other rules for everyone.”
“That says something about the kind of leader you are going to be,” he added. And if a candidate’s basic education is that he will be loyal to Donald Trump, it means he will not think about you or your needs.
Walker echoed Obama’s comments in a statement Saturday.
“President Obama was there last night. He said he’s a celebrity. He made that mistake, didn’t he? I’m not a celebrity, I’m a warrior for God,” the GOP candidate said.
Walker also said he would pray for Obama, who he said had picked the “wrong horse” by endorsing Warnock.
“You need help because you have the wrong horse. Senator Warnock is the wrong horse. “He knows he can’t do the job, and it’s time for him to go,” said Walker.
Obama wasn’t the only Democrat to speak out against Walker — Warnock, too, used his speech to inform the former president of calling his Republican opponent by name.
Reflecting Democrats’ concerns that the race is tight, Warnock urged Georgians to think about the consequences of the election, saying, “Your vote is your voice, your voice is your dignity.”
In his speech to a standing ovation from the crowd, Warnock confronted his opponent directly – echoing Obama’s view that Walker was not ready.
“Put simply, Herschel Walker is not ready,” Warnock said. “He is not ready yet. He is not ready yet. It’s not just that he doesn’t prepare, he’s not good enough.”
Warnock, who said his Republican opponent struggles with the truth, later added, “If we can’t trust him to tell the truth about his life, how can we trust him to protect our lives and our families and our children and our jobs. and our future?”
Obama spent little time focusing on Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, despite Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaking during the event. Obama noted some of the election laws Kemp and the Republicans of Georgia passed after the 2018 election, but they weren’t very specific.
Instead, the former president offered some broad thoughts on the middle class.
“I understand why people are worried. I understand why you might be worried. I understand why it might be tempting to tune in, watch football or ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Obama said. “But I’m here to tell you that choosing is not an option. Despair is not an option. The only way to make this economy fair is if we all fight for it. The only way to save democracy is if we are together, take care of it and fight for it. ”
He added: “The important question you should ask yourself now is who will fight for you?” Who cares about you? Who sees you? Who believes in you? That is the choice in this election. ”
Even though Obama had a short lead in the governor’s race, the stadium erupted with chants of “Stacey! Stacey! Stacey!” when Abrams took the stage in front of the former president, he invoked Obama’s election history in 2008 — and re-election in 2012 — and asked voters to believe he could beat Kemp, who the polls show that you have a chance to run the race.
Abrams said: “We defied conventional wisdom to make a big change, and we’re about to do it again, Georgia, we’re about to do it again.”
He added: “We defied history again and again and we will do it on November 8 because that is who we are. We are Georgians alone, and we believe in ourselves, and we believe in tomorrow.”
Hours before Obama arrived, long lines surrounded the Gateway Center Arena in College Park, outside Atlanta. Aides with clipboards and laptop computers moved through the crowd, signing up people for this week’s door-to-door volunteer campaign shifts.
Above all, officials said, the event was meant to be an organizing tool.
“Having President Obama here shows that we’re still fighting, pushing toward Election Day,” Rep. Nikema Williams, who is also the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, told CNN. “It’s about connecting people with interesting voters who are looking for inspiration this election season.”
More than 1.3 million people had already voted in Georgia on Friday, according to the secretary of state’s office, with one week left before the election season.
Inside the stadium, a DJ warmed up the crowd of about 6,000, and Democrats waved signs for Warnock, Abrams and other state and local candidates.
“Vote early, now through November 4,” shouted the big blue signs in the stadium. “Election Day: November 8.”
This story has been updated with additional comments.