It had the feel of the 2016 presidential campaign, but with the roles reversed.
In Illinois, Barack Obama – now the former president – went after his successor by name, calling on young voters to vote in November to "restore some semblance of sanity to our politics." He did so reluctantly, he said, because of a “wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage, making room for new voices and new ideas.”
In the Dakotas, his old nemesis Donald Trump – now the president – seemed all too willing to welcome Obama back to the stage as a target of his ridicule. As he flew to Fargo, N.D., for a fundraiser, Trump was asked if he watched the speech.
“Im sorry, I watched it but I fell asleep. I found hes very good for sleeping,” Trump said. “Isnt this much more excited than listening to President Obama speak? Because we get things done.”
In North Dakota, Trump added Native Americans to the list of minority groups to which he’s made his tried and true campaign pitch: “I go right back to where I was two years ago when I was campaigning, what do you have to lose?” he said. “Very respectfully, what the hell do you have to lose?”
With Labor Day crossed off the calendar and the midterm elections looming, both Obama and Trump framed the congressional races as a referendum on Trump.
Since returning from an August vacation, Trump has had rallies or fundraisers in New York, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Next week, he has campaign events in Missouri and Mississippi. The plan: More than 40 days on the campaign trail leading up to the Nov. 4 election.
For his part, Obama heads to Cleveland on Sept. 13 to campaign for Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray. He also will campaign this month in Illinois and Pennsylvania and will headline a fundraiser for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee in New York City.
“Some of you may think Im exaggerating when I say this Novembers elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime,” Obama said. “But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher.”
Trump rattled off issues like gun crime, immigration and gun rights. “That’s a very important thing,” Trump said. “Things like that, they are under siege and things like that can disappear very, very quickly if you dont have the right people.”