CLEVELAND (AP) — Former President Barack Obama delivered a simple message Thursday headed into the fall midterm elections: Vote.
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand in Cleveland, Obama said the consequences of sitting on the sidelines during November's midterm elections "are far more dangerous" than in the past.
Without mentioning Republican President Donald Trump by name, Obama said, "This is not normal what we're seeing. It is radical." He said a continuation of Republican control in Washington would threaten Medicaid, affordable health care, even democracy.
"On November 6th, we have a chance to restore some sanity to our politics," Obama said. "We can flip the balance of power back to the American people. Because you are the only check on bad policy, you are the only real check on abuses of power. It's you and your vote."
Obama was in closely divided Ohio to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, running mate Betty Sutton, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and the party's statewide slate. Cordray, who was Obama's appointee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is locked in a tight contest for governor against Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is term-limited.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, was in the state Thursday to raise money for DeWine and Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who is seeking to unseat Brown in the Senate.
In Cleveland, Cordray pledged to the crowd that he and his party would fight for decency, tolerance, inclusion and respectfulness if elected, declaring, "Change is coming."
Obama drew a contrast between Cordray's polite — some say boring — style and the president's. He said many Ohio farmers "have money in their pockets" because of Cordray's work at the consumer bureau.
"He didn't try to take credit for it. He didn't tweet about it. He just did it," Obama said. "And if you elect him your governor, he will keep working like that — on your behalf."
Obama said this fall's elections are more important than any he can remember. "Each time we move in the direction of greater freedoms and greater prosperity for all people, the status quo pushes back. The powerful and the privileged oftentimes want to keep us divided, work to keep us angry and cynical, because that helps them hold onto their power and privilege."
Republicans rejected Democrats' arguments.
"2016 is over, but President Obama continues to dismiss the millions of voters across Ohio who rejected a continuation of his policies in favor of President Trump's plan for historic tax cuts, new jobs and soaring economic growth," said Mandi Merritt, Ohio spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. "Richard Cordray, Obama's former regulator-in-chief, would just be more of the same of the outdated Obama-era policies that hurt Ohio families."