US would be near recession now if Democrats won in 2016

Obama's denunciation of Trump came as the president fends off an anonymous op-ed and a harsh bombshell book by Bob Woodward

Obama told an audience of more than a thousand students at the University of IL his successor is "just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years".

The former president said Trump is "a symptom, not the cause" of the divisiveness plaguing USA politics.

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro opened her Saturday night show with a broad condemnation of President Barack Obama's "full-throttle savage attack" on Donald Trump.

Now, as 2018 midterm campaign season gets underway, it's likely a very public Trump-versus-Obama showdown becomes a defining storyline of the year.

"I wish he had gone a little harder on Trump", said Lee Rice, 73, an electrician from Oakdale in California's central valley.

"He is a symptom, not the cause".

"2016 is over, but President Obama is still dismissing the millions of voters across the country who rejected a continuation of his policies in favor of President Trump's plan for historic tax cuts, new jobs and economic growth", RNC spokesperson Ellie Hockenbury said in a statement.

"These are extraordinary times, and they're risky times", Obama said during remarks at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign, adding that the upcoming midterm elections offer "the chance to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics".

Obama is expected to deliver a similar message in Cleveland on Thursday, when he campaigns on behalf of Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for OH governor, and other Democrats.

"We're supposed to stand up to discrimination", Obama said.

"If we don't step up, things can get worse", the former president told the audience at the Anaheim Convention Centre. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, suggesting they shouldn't have been charged so close to the midterm elections and because they are Republicans.

Trump responded to the speech at the top of a fundraiser in Fargo, North Dakota not long after. But many Republicans saw the former president's re-entry on the campaign trail as a net positive for them.

"For three cycles President Obama fired up Republicans like nobody, and I'm happy if he wants to do it again", he said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington.

After his vitriolic condemnation of Trump, Obama offered a solution: Vote Democrat.

Obama ridiculed Trump for taking credit for economic gains that began under Obama's administration, and said Trump was exploiting cultural fears and economic anger that have grown in recent years amid societal upheavals. "That is not a check", Obama said.

"You desperately tried to defeat Trump and it didn't work", Pirro said. "Then something powerful happens", he said. "I found he's very good - very good for sleeping", he said.

The speech comes ahead of his first midterm campaign events, beginning Saturday, in the political battleground of Orange County, California, where he will stump for several Democratic House candidates.

Noting Trump's efforts to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin while US intelligence has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Obama asked, "What happened to the Republican Party?" He'll next travel to California for an event with seven House candidates in Orange County.

Trump told supporters in Montana on Thursday that Republicans needed to maintain control of Congress to stave off possible impeachment proceedings against him, although Democrats have played down any discussion of that approach.

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