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Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama took on the Republican Party in his first major speech of the 2018 midterm election cycle.

"Over the past two decades," he said, "the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party."

"This is not normal. These are extraordinary times. And they're dangerous times."
— Barack Obama

Obama argued Republicans are using the politics of fear and division in 2018. The GOP, he said, "will do anything to hang on to their recent gains."

He also criticized the "resistance" coming from inside the White House, as detailed in the anonymous NYT op-ed:

“By the way, the claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president's orders, that is not a check. I'm being serious here. That's not how our democracy's supposed to work."

The bottom line: Obama's 2018 message is not just about criticizing the GOP, but also encouraging Democratic voters to do more than just protest. "You cannot sit back and wait for a savior, you can’t opt out because you don't feel that inspired by this or that particular candidate," Obama said. "This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella. We don't need a messiah."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.