- John Gress/Reuters
- Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia during a Friday speech to students at the University of Illinois.
- “We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies. Not follow them…how hard can that be, to say that Nazis are bad?” he said.
- Obama is re-entering the political fray to campaign for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections and encourage voter participation.
Former President Barack Obama directly criticized President Donald Trump’s perceived failure to properly condemn the white nationalist and neo-Nazi protests that led to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, calling out Trump’s specific actions by name for the first time since leaving the White House.
“We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies. Not follow them,” Obama said in a Friday speech at the University of Illinois. “We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.”
“How hard can that be, to say that Nazis are bad?” he exclaimed, to resounding applause and laughter from the audience. Obama’s speech encouraged students to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump received heavy backlash from both political parties over his remarks blaming “both sides” for the deadly violence that occurred at a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia during the summer of 2017.
Three people were killed and dozens more injured from the violent clashes between attendees of the “Unite the Right” rally and counter-protestors.
Trump was also criticized for saying there were “very fine people” involved in the protests against the removal of a Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee, which then inspired the “Unite the Right” rally.
Obama’s midterm campaign schedule includes plans to campaign for for Democratic candidates in close congressional races in Orange County, California, as well as Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for governor in Ohio.