Former President Barack Obama launched an opening campaign salvo against incumbent President Donald Trump Friday, saying Trump is "the symptom, not the cause" of divisions plaguing the U.S.
Obama told an audience of more than a thousand students at the University of Illinois his successor is "just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years."
"What’s gonna fix our democracy is you," he said.
Obama is seeking to rally support for Democrats as Americans prepare to head to the voting booth Nov. 6 in elections that will see one-third of Senate seats up for grabs, as well as all seats in the House of Representatives. Republicans currently control both chambers, but have a narrow hold on the Senate.
Trump, too, has been working to shore up support for his party as the polls approach, holding campaign-style rallies for Republicans running for office, regularly touting the U.S.'s surging economy.
But Obama pointed to his own role in bringing the U.S. out of one of the worst economic recessions it has experienced, saying "let's just remember when this recovery started."
The comments drew a rebuke from Trump who told his own rally in Fargo, North Dakota, "Obama was trying to take credit for this incredible thing that’s happening."
“I have to say this to President Obama: if the Dems got in with their agenda in November of almost 2 years ago, instead of having 4.2 up, i believe honestly we’d have 4.2 down," Trump said, referring to the U.S.'s economic growth.
Obama also took aim at the Republican Party directly saying "the politics of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home" in the party.
"What happened to the Republican Party?" he asked rhetorically.