Obama blasts Trump and Republicans, urges Democrats to vote

Barack Obama gives speech today as he receives ethics award — watch live stream, live updates

WATCH LIVE: Obama Kicks Off Midterm Push In Illinois

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President Barack Obama took the stage at the University of IL after receiving the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government and gave a speech kicking off the 2018 midterm race in earnest. The award is named for Senator Paul H. Thomas, who represented IL from 1949 to 1967, according to the school's website.

Typically reserved and measured at the podium, former President Barack Obama didn't hold back Friday in a scathing critique of President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Washington.

Trump said Obama was trying to take credit for this "incredible thing that's happening to our country".

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

The former president's remarks - which marked his full return to the political stage - came ahead of series of campaign stops to help fellow Democrats running in pivotal upcoming midterm races.

"Let's just remember when this economy started" improving, he said.

Obama added in his remarks to Democrats: "It did not start with Donald Trump".

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This post has been updated with additional comments from Obama's speech.

He criticized the divisive politics of the Trump era and took aim at recent Republican policy moves such as the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that ballooned the nation's budget deficit.

The speech was billed as Obama's first major political address since leaving office.

He will appear at a September 13 rally in OH with Richard Cordray, a former Obama appointee, who is running for governor in a state that is also one of the top targets for the Holder effort.

UPDATE: 2:47 P.M.: This article was updated with a statement from the Republican National Committee. "I found he's very good for sleeping".

The former president made it very clear how important it is for Americans to go vote in the midterms. "If you are one of these folks who is watching cable news at your cocktail parties with your friends and you are saying "civilization is collapsing" and you are nervous and anxious, but that is not where you are putting all your time, energy and money, then either you don't actually think civilization is collapsing ... or you are not pushing yourself hard enough, and I would push harder".

Obama is re-entering the public eye two months before voters head to the polls for the midterm elections on November 6.

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