MILWAUKEE — Former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail in Wisconsin by spending Saturday night stumping for a slate of Democrats running in the midterms.
Obama is no stranger to North Division High School. He previously held rallies there for candidates up and down the ticket in 2018 and 2014.
“The reason I am here is simple,” Obama told a crowded gymnasium. “I am here to ask you to vote.”
The former president traveled to the Badger State to campaign for Gov. Tony Evers and his running mate Sara Rodriguez, Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Enthusiasm often wanes during midterm elections. Obama’s visit to Milwaukee, which is widely considered to be a stronghold for Democrats, was meant to encourage supporters to get off the so-called sidelines.
“I understand why you sometimes might just want to tune out. Just watch football or HGTV,” Obama said. “Tuning out, Milwaukee, is not an option. Just moping is not an option, because the only way to make this economy fair, to make it work for everybody, is if we all fight for it.”
Evers, who has made public education a cornerstone of his campaign, faced backlash ahead of Saturday’s rally from his opponent Tim Michels’ campaign.
“For generations of kids stuck at schools like North Division, the education establishment continues to fail them, and Tony Evers’ only solutions are to lower standards, diminish expectations, and raise budgets,” Michels said in a statement. “Instead of having a party today, Gov. Evers should apologize for his four decades of failing to offer opportunities to Milwaukee’s students.”
Meanwhile, Obama defended Evers' support for the public education system.
“Have you been on the internet? People are out there saying that we are ruled by giant lizards and that Elvis is alive,” Obama said. “You can't think of anything crazier than investing more in our schools and our children?”
The former president also rallied behind Barnes' candidacy for U.S. Senate. Obama heatedly criticized Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for his stance on issues ranging from reproductive rights to social security.
“If he understands giving tax breaks for private planes more than he understands that making sure seniors who have worked all their lives are able to retire with dignity and respect, he's not the person who is thinking about you and knows you and sees you, and he should not be your senator from Wisconsin,” Obama said.
Recently, Obama also campaigned for Democrats in hotly contested races in Michigan and Georgia.