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

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

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