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Obama boosts Biden in must-win Michigan

Former President Obama joined his former vice president, Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE, at a rally in Flint, Mich., on Saturday as he ramps up his campaign appearances on behalf of the Democratic nominee in the final days of the 2020 presidential race.

Speaking at the drive-in rally — a format that has become popular with Democrats during the coronavirus pandemic — Obama delivered a scathing assessment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE’s tenure in the White House, hammering the incumbent’s “reality show” style of politics and accusing him of focusing more on self-glorification than on the duties of his office.

“He hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself or his friends or treating the presidency as anything more than a reality show to give him the attention that he craves,” Obama said. “But unfortunately, the rest of us have to live with the consequences.”

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By contrast, Obama cast Biden as an empathetic and hardworking public servant who had helped guide him through some of the biggest decisions of his eight years in the White House.

“I can tell you that the presidency doesn’t change who you are. It shows who are you. It reveals who you are,” Obama said. “And for eight years, Joe was the last one in the room when I made a big decision.”

The rally in Flint, the first of two in Michigan scheduled for Saturday, marked Obama’s first joint appearance with Biden since the former vice president formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in August. 

The former president maintained a relatively low profile throughout much of the 2020 race, only endorsing Biden in April after he had all but clinched the Democratic nomination. But Obama has ramped up his appearances on the campaign trail in recent weeks, stumping for Biden in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and now Michigan. 

Biden’s campaign announced earlier Saturday that Obama would appear at events in Georgia and Florida on Monday. 

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Nearly four years after leaving the White House, Obama remains one of the most popular and influential Democrats in the country. His star power was on display on Saturday, with rallygoers honking their car horns frequently and several shouting “I love you” at the former president. 

While Obama used his speech in Flint to talk up Biden’s character and qualifications, he took particular aim at Trump, at times criticizing his successor in personal terms. He cast Trump as concerned only about his own ego and mocked the president’s longtime obsession with the size of the crowds at his events.

“What is his obsession, by the way, with crowd size? You notice that?” Obama said. “This is the one measure he has of success. He’s still worried about his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine. It really bugged him. He’s still talking about that.”

“Did nobody come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Is he traumatized?” the former president continued. “What’s with crowds?”

Obama also slammed what he called Trump’s “closing argument” — that the media and American voters are “too focused” on the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than 9 million people in the U.S. and killed 230,000. 

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“‘COVID, COVID, COVID,’ he’s complaining. He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage. And now he’s accusing doctors of profiting off of this pandemic,” Obama said, referring to Trump’s baseless claim on Friday that doctors had profited off of the coronavirus pandemic by intentionally inflating the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

“He does not understand the notion that somebody would risk their lives to save others without making a buck,” Obama said.

Obama is slated to appear alongside Biden in Detroit later Saturday. The back-to-back rallies in Michigan are designed to rally last-minute support for Biden’s presidential bid in a state that Trump carried narrowly in 2016 and that Democrats see as a critical part of their path to the White House. 

Most recent polling out of the state shows Biden leading Trump by high single digits, with a survey from The New York Times and Siena College released just this week putting the former vice president 8 points ahead of his Republican rival.

But Obama also used his speech in Flint to boost down-ballot Democrats in Michigan, most notably Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE, one of only two Democratic Senate incumbents running for reelection in a state that Trump won four years ago. Peters, a first-term senator, is facing a challenge from Republican John James. 

In his opening remarks on Saturday, Obama called Peters “a man who’s always in there fighting for you, who we need to send back to the United States Senate.”