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Former President Barack Obama. Photo: ALEX EDELMAN / Getty Images

In his first campaign rally appearance on behalf of Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama urged Americans to vote, saying "we can't afford another four years" of a Trump presidency.

Why it matters via Axios' Hans Nichols: With less than two weeks until Election Day, Obama made his case for Biden in Pennsylvania, a state that Trump's campaign knows he needs to win.

The big picture: The Biden campaign is drawing on Obama's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

  • "We can’t be complacent. I don't care about the polls," the former president said.

The state of play: Obama addressed a socially distant crowd in South Philadelphia at a drive-in rally Wednesday evening. Before taking the stage, he met with a roundtable of Black male elected officials to talk about the issues impacting their communities and to stress the importance of voting.

What he's saying: Obama noted that Trump’s tweets and unwillingness to condemn groups such as QAnon have "consequence ... They embolden other people to be cruel and divisive and racist. And It frays the fabric of our society.”

  • “We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook,” Obama said at the rally. “They probably used it to ... prop up a wobbly table somewhere.”
  • ‘What we do these next 13 days will matter for decades to come.”
  • “You guys delivered for me twice, and I am back here tonight to ask you to deliver the White House for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” Obama said.

Between the lines: Obama used both humor and blistering attacks to argue that Trump is unfit for office, referencing a recent New York Times story on Trump's alleged business dealings with China.

  • "Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?" Obama asked the rally crowd. "They would have called me Beijing Barry."

Of note: In his earlier appearance at the roundtable, Obama said Americans "can't afford another four years" of Trump, though he did not mention the president by name.

He also pushed a get-out-the-vote message. “It’s not that voting makes everything perfect, it’s that it makes things better,” he said.

  • “If you don’t vote, then you are not at the table and then stuff is done to you,” Obama said.
  • “Hope is not blind optimism, it’s not ignoring problems. Hope is believing in the face of difficulty that we can overcome and get a better world.
  • “And so, I’ve never lost hope over these last four years.
  • "I’ve been mad. I’ve been frustrated, but I haven’t lost hope, and the reason is because I never expected progress to move directly in a straight line."

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

Updated 9 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

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