Obama rips Trump, GOP in 'state of our democracy' speech

US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville Indiana

"It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say that we don't threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don't like".

Returning to a familiar theme of speeches in his presidency, Obama said at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign that the price of progress toward "our founding ideals" sometimes meant taking two steps back for every step forward. "Democrats may have a new resistor-in-chief on the campaign trail, but they'll need more than a message of resist and obstruct to win this November".

Since leaving office in January 2017, Obama has largely refrained from directly criticizing Trump or his administration.

Republicans shrugged off Mr Obama's criticism. "I found he's very good for sleeping".

Mr Obama will hit the campaign trail tomorrow, appearing at a campaign event in Southern California before heading to OH next week and to IL and Pennsylvania later in the month.

Obama's return to the political spotlight came at the University of IL at Champaign-Urbana Friday.

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Mr Obama told Friday's awards ceremony in Urbana, Illinois, that he had been intending to follow the American tradition of former presidents exiting the political stage.

But on Friday, Obama offered his most pointed indictment of the political climate that has formed under the watch of Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. "It did not start with Donald Trump", he said. "We are supposed to stand up to discrimination and we sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathisers".

Republicans, and many naïve journalists, liked to attribute the hysterical right-wing backlash against Barack Obama to a sudden upsurge in fiscal conservatism.

This post has been updated with additional comments from Obama's speech. He attempted to connect Trump's views with the members of the Republican Party as a whole, particularly on Russian Federation, and noted how far the GOP had seemed to stray from its roots. Obama's speech castigated Trump as the product of a party that long ago went mad. He will spend this Saturday in California stumping for seven congressional candidates at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event and will head to OH next week to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray.

Historically, midterms are lightly attended and Obama made a point of reminding his audience that only one in five young people voted in the 2014 midterm election.

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