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Barack Obama gives speech today as he receives ethics award — watch live stream, live updates

Former President Barack Obama is delivering a speech on the "state of our democracy" at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign campus Friday, in what will set his tone for campaigning ahead of the November midterm elections.

Barack Obama has delivered a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump's America, attacking his successor by name for the first time in impassioned remarks that denounced "the politics of fear and resentment".

Trump also claimed, as he has in the past, that economic indicators were awful under Obama but excellent during his own presidency. "You need to vote because our democracy depends on it".

"The point Washington made", Obama said, speaking from a stage in rural IL, "is that it's essential to American democracy that in a government of and by and for the people, there should be no permanent ruling class". "He is a symptom, not a cause".

Obama plans to hit the campaign trail for Democratic candidates in competitive races all across the country through October, appearing first in California on Saturday and OH next week.

The speech was a preview of the arguments Obama is expected to make on the campaign trail.

The ex-president has kept a low profile since he left office in 2017 until now.

Trump has consistently used Obama as a foil on Twitter to energize his voters, while Democratic incumbent senators are struggling for reelection in states where Obama has never been particularly popular. And after Obama's speech, one of them came from Matt Drudge-who tweeted, "Democrats lost 76 House seats and 15 Senate seats during Obama's terms".

Obama also criticized recent Republican policy moves such as the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that ballooned the nation's budget deficit, but which party leaders hoped would be a winning issue during midterm campaigns.

The result is a strategy of big events in blue corners of the country, quiet fundraisers with donors and a series of digital videos or robo-calls, meant to drive Democratic attention and turnout in a targeted way.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is also stepping up her political involvement ahead of the November midterm election. As Obama noted, the supposed fiscal conservatism that Republicans cited as the reason they couldn't compromise disappeared overnight when they took power: "This is supposed to be the party of fiscal conservatism". We are supposed to stand up to bullies not follow them.

"I have to say this to President Obama: if Democrats got in, with their agenda, in November of nearly two years ago, instead of having 4.2 up, I believe you would have 4.2 down - you'd be in negative numbers".

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