With Barack Obama's press release Wednesday of 81 Democratic candidates he is endorsing for election this fall, observers of the 44th President expect he will hit the campaign trail for them soon after Labor Day.
Having remained almost completely silent on issues since leaving the presidency last year, Obama's message on the stump and long-awaited response to President Donald Trump's frequent jabs are anxiously awaited by Democrats and the liberal press.
Obama himself offered a clue two weeks ago when he spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
While Obama's words on the 100th anniversary of the South African leader's birth drew relatively little press attention, a careful reading of them suggests just what themes he is likely to press on the stump this fall.
"Mandela said 'Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom,'" Obama declared. "Now is a good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up."
His call to arms to young voters is coupled with a strong denunciation of "talk about the end of democracy and the triumph of tribalism and the strong man" — a not-so-veiled reference to Trump.
He went on in his Mandela speech to denounce "the promotion of anti-intellectualism and the rejection of science from leaders who find critical thinking and data somehow politically inconvenient – and as with the denial of rights, the denial of facts runs counter to democracy, it could be its undoing."
This was a clear slam of Trump and a synopsis of the charge by Democrats he denies fact on issues such as his rejection of the Paris accord on climate change.
Obama underscored this with his lament "too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth."
He also sounded the traditional Democratic economic theme (" . . . when economic power is concentrated in the hands of the few, history also shows that political power is sure to follow") and a strong broadside against "immigration policies based on race, or ethnicity, or religion . . . And we can enforce the law while respecting the essential humanity of those who are striving for a better life."
Agreeing that Obama's Mandela speech might indeed be a "sneak preview" of his stump speech, former Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Kerrey of Nebraska also told us "it does not inspire me. 'Now is the time to get fired up' is not enough for me. 'Now is the time to govern' is more likely to get my attention. Getting me fired up when I was 25 was not difficult. Getting me ready to govern is a much more important challenge."
Kerrey's view was echoed by veteran North Carolina GOP consultant Marc Rotterman.
"Although he tries to mask it, clearly Obama regards himself as the leader of the 'resistance,'" Rotterman told us, "and although he doesn't mention President Trump by name, he takes numerous shots at him during the speech. Obama makes it clear he intends to polarize the electorate with a class warfare message."
"I find it ironic that a man that talked about drawing 'red lines' in Syria and 'a video' being the cause of the Benghazi terrorist attack that left four Americans dead has the audacity to talk about 'objective truth.'"
"Will his message sell on the campaign trail? Only time will tell."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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