Barack Obama made his first public appearance in the state of Georgia since leaving the White House in 2016. Obama took time to stump for Georgia’s gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams four days before the crucial November election.
A capacity crowd of nearly 6,000 packed the Forbes Arena at Morehouse College. Some waited in line outside of the arena the night before the event and braved the cool temperatures and sporadic rain to hear the 44th U.S. President speak.
Shortly after 5 p.m., the doors at Forbes Arena opened for the public as musical selections such as Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” and F.L.Y.’s “Swag Surfin'” blasted through the arena’s sound system.
Noteworthy speakers such as Congressman John Lewis, Atlanta’s mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged the audience to vote for Abrams.
Prominent artists from Atlanta’s entertainment industry such as Chris Tucker, Kandi Burruss, Jermaine Dupri, and 2 Chainz were in attendance.
Shortly after 7 p.m., Abrams hit the stage to a resounding applause from the audience. She shared her vision for Georgia and the importance of voting on Nov. 6 before introducing Obama.
Obama walked on stage just hours after leaving Miami, where he stumped for Florida’s gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum. The crowd’s raucous response to Obama was similar to that of a major rock star, his mere presence provoked strong emotions.
Obama blasted Abrams’ opponent Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump. He took aim at Kemp’s overt actions to suppress minority voters.
“If you are aspiring to a higher office in which you pledge to look out for the people of your state, then how can you actively try to prevent the citizens of your state from exercising their most basic right,” Obama asked rhetorically.
“They’re trying to disenfranchise you and take away the right to vote,” Obama said. “Stacey’s opponent has already been caught multiple times. Don’t boo. Vote. They don’t care about your boos. They care about your vote.”
Obama also took a moment to address Trump’s ongoing decisions to blatantly lie to the American public. According to the Washington Post, Trump has told over 6,420 mistruths since becoming president in 2017.
“Leaders at the highest levels of public office, repeatedly, boldly, shamelessly lie – just make stuff up, just say things they know are not true,” Obama said.
He also took Trump and his base to task for their xenophobia. “Rhetoric that is designed to make us angry, and make us fearful,” he said. “To make us believe that things will be better if it just weren’t for those who don’t like us or don’t pray like we do or don’t love like we do.”
Obama also discussed the importance of health care and questioned the Republicans’ tactics to embrace health care reform after initially trying to eradicate Obamacare. He declared Abrams the most qualified candidate in the race.
Following his speech, Lucy McBath, candidate for U.S. Representative in Georgia’s 6th District, shared her thoughts on Obama’s speech and the upcoming election.
“People are standing up and exercising their voices,” McBath said during an interview with rolling out. “I’m encouraged to see the people who are working hard to support the Democratic nominees. The fact that President Obama has come to support Stacey and [other] candidates, it means the world to us. We will be the ones to make sure democracy is inclusive and diverse. And we’re going to turn this state blue.”