Obama Schools Heckler At Rally For Midterm Democrats

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Former President Barack Obama faced another heckler during a rally Wednesday in Arizona on behalf of Democratic candidates. Obama has been participating in rallies in swing states nationwide, with another planned for this weekend in Pennsylvania.

“Hold up, hold up,” Obama said during the rally after the heckler began shouting and drawing loud boos from the crowd. “Hey, young man, just listen for a second. You know you have to be polite and civil when people are talking, then other people are talking and then you get a chance to talk. Set up your own rally! A lot of people worked hard for this. Come on, man.” As he has elsewhere, Obama used the opportunity provided by the heckler to discuss the problems of political polarization. He has also talked about the issue in the context of a recent physical attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was confronted in a California residence of the Pelosis by a far-right assailant who apparently struck him with a hammer.

“This is part of what happens in our politics these days. We get distracted,” Obama remarked. “You got one person yelling and suddenly everybody’s yelling. You get one tweet that’s stupid and suddenly everybody’s obsessed with the tweet. We can’t fall for that. We have to stay focused.” As he noted, ongoing races in Arizona could have significant ramifications for the continuance of democracy. With polling showing the races for governor and Senate as close, Republicans — both of whom are aligned with Trump and conspiracy theories about the U.S. electoral process — could win, and if Kari Lake (the gubernatorial pick) is in power in 2024, who’s to say how she would handle the certification of that year’s presidential election results? Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) have also opposed Lake. “Democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona” if Republicans win, Obama warned.

Other candidates who Obama has supported include Democratic Senate contenders Raphael Warnock, Mandela Barnes, and Catherine Cortez Masto, who are running in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nevada, respectively. “What you should be asking yourself right now is who will fight for you?” Obama said recently in Wisconsin. “Who cares about you? That’s the choice in this election, all the other stuff is surface stuff, is distraction.” Obama also praised Tony Evers, the Democratic governor in Wisconsin running for re-election against Republican Tim Michels, for helping stop certain moves by Republicans in the state legislature. Among other examples, Evers has vetoed sweeping reforms to the electoral system in the state which didn’t respond to any real-world upheaval but would’ve made voting more difficult — although on one issue (assistance with returning mail-in ballots), the Wisconsin state Supreme Court later acted, before at least somewhat of a roll-back in federal court, restoring rights to assistance for disabled Wisconsin voters.

Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons