Former President Barack Obama is set to rally for Indiana Democratic senator Joe Donnelly, a polarizing figure among voters, who have seen him align increasingly with Donald Trump over the last two years, reports the Associated Press.
Obama, not unlike Trump himself, has been busy covering the length and breadth of the country with the midterms approaching, and on Sunday, he travels to Gary to headline a campaign rally for the Democratic senator. On Monday, Trump is set to rally for his opponent, Mike Braun. But while Braun is a steadfast Trump ally, and no one is surprised by his continued reverence for the current president, Democratic voters are worried by Donnelly’s continued support of Trump’s policies as well. For a Democrat, Donnelly likes Trump a bit too much.
For instance, Donnelly has whole-heartedly expressed his support for Trump’s pet projects, including building a wall at the Mexico border. In recent weeks, Democratic voters have seen him lean towards the right, and observers believe Obama’s last-minute foray into the state to campaign for Donnelly is to calm Democratic nerves worried about the Senator’s allegiance.
“If he does need to inoculate himself from some of his firmer conservative rhetoric, it’s a pretty effective way to do it,” said Christina Hale, a former state lawmaker, who is not seemingly impressed with Donnelly’s love for Trump.
While Indiana voted for Barack Obama back in 2008, it is believed to have experienced a right wing shift over the last decade. It is probably one reason that Obama has decided to campaign for Donnelly in the city of Gary, which is closer to Democratic Chicago than many deep red parts of the state.
“While President Obama’s approval ratings are not great in much of the state, you can pretty safely bring [him] into [the] Chicago media market,” Republican consultant Cam Savage told AP.
Trump, meanwhile, wasn’t going to let go of the opportunity to take a dig at Obama and Donnelly, whom he has seen support his views. Saying Donnelly had to take Obama’s help because of his shrinking numbers in the polls, Trump claimed the former president’s support was yielding no evident results for the Democratic senator.
Donnelly is known to have been concerned about Obama headlining a rally for him, and not unlike other Democratic senators contesting races in states Trump won in 2016, he was not on board to be endorsed by celebrities. But he would nonetheless hope that Obama’s presence two days before the elections would help him get past the line.