Obama, Trump give contrasting pitches in final stretch before midterm elections

Both former U.S. president Barack Obama and President Donald Trump took to the campaign trail Saturday to bolster candidates from their respective parties while offering drastically different political views in a final push before the midterm elections on Tuesday.

Obama spoke at a rally in Gary, Ind., for Sen. Joe Donnelly, where he called out Trump on his dangerous rhetoric and falsehoods.

“Don’t be hoodwinked. Don’t be bamboozled. Don’t let them run the okie-doke on you,” Obama said. “Because when they’re trying to distract you with all this stuff, they’re robbing you blind. They’ll be like: ‘Look, look, look! Caravan! Caravan!’ Then they’re giving tax cuts to their billionaire friends.”

Obama was referring to the migrant caravan currently making its way through Mexico and toward the U.S., against which Trump has sent troops to the border to act in defence.

Obama said that Trump sending troops to the border is a “political stunt.”

“Men and women of our military deserve better than that,” Obama said.

Meanwhile, Trump was in Macon, Ga., to support Republican Brian Kemp and Chattanooga, Tenn., to support Rep. Marsha Blackburn, touting the dangers of the migrant caravan headed to the U.S.

“Look what is marching up — that is an invasion,” Trump said in Georgia.

“Turn back now, because you’re not getting in,” he later said in Tennessee.

Trump has previously brought up recent job growth in the U.S. as a sign that his presidency is a success, saying Republicans create jobs while Democrats have “mobs.”

“This election will decide whether we build on this extraordinary prosperity we have created,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Georgia, warning that Democrats would “take a giant wrecking ball to our economy.”

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported better-than-expected job creation in October, with the unemployment rate steady at a 49-year low of 3.7 per cent and wages experiencing their best annual gain in almost a decade.

But Obama pointed out that it was under his presidency that job creation and economic recovery began, not Trump’s.

“The economy created more jobs in my last 21 months than it has in the 21 months since I left office,” Obama said.

“When you hear these Republicans bragging about ‘look how good the economy is,’ where do you think that started?”

Obama also condemned Trump and Republicans for trying to repeal his signature health-care law while at the same time claiming to support the law’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Opinion polls and election forecasters have made Democratic candidates the favourites on Tuesday, suggesting the party will pick up the 23 seats it needs to capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would enable Democrats to stymie Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration.

Republicans are favoured to retain their slight, two-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, which would let them retain the power to approve U.S. Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes.

The elections are seen as a litmus test for Trump’s presidency so far, with a victory likely to bolster his unconventional style, as there appear to be no political ramifications for such behaviour.

However, voters have a chance to show that they don’t approve of Trump’s behaviour with the election, Obama said.

“The only check right now on the behaviour of these Republicans is you and your vote,” Obama said in Indiana. “The character of our country is on the ballot.”

—With files from Reuters and Associated Press

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