Former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail Monday, blasting his longtime Republican antagonists for claiming credit for the economic recovery and making hollow promises to preserve a key plank of his healthcare law.
At a rally encouraging Nevadans to take advantage of early voting, Obama said Democrats sometimes overcomplicate what is really a simple pitch. "Just vote!" he implored. "When you vote good things happen."
Without ever naming his successor he blasted President Trump for employing a cynical strategy aiming to divide Americans and for quickly casting aside pledges to help ordinary Americans in favor of giveaways to the wealthy like their tax cut plan.
He worked to remind voters that it was he who had inherited an economy in shambles, and planted seeds of recovery that Republicans now want to claim credit for.
"By the time I left office, wages were rising, uninsurance rate was falling, poverty was falling, and that's what I handed off to the next guy," he said. "So when you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it!"
And he joined other Democrats in seizing on comments from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, who has said that addressing a rising deficit can only be done with changes to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. And he said other GOP promises on healthcare were unsustainable.
"Let me say something as the person who actually passed the law that prevents people with preexisting conditions from being discriminated against: I can tell you that, that they have no way of protecting preexisting conditions with anything they've proposed," he said. "They're just saying it! They're just making it up!"
Obama has chosen to play a limited role on the campaign trail, with Monday's rally in Las Vegas one of less than a half dozen he expects to hold for the entire midterm elections. But in choosing his electoral targets he has sought to maximize his impact, focusing on places where he can help not just with multiple key congressional races but also important statewide contests.
On Monday, in addition to a major push for Senate hopeful Jacky Rosen, he made a specific push for a ballot initiative in Nevada that would automatically register eligible voters when they obtain drivers licenses.
"This is not just about one person in the White House," he said. "This is about Congress, and governors races, and state legislative races. Because power in America isn't just in one person. I mean, if all it took was being president, shoot, I would have solved everything."