Barack Obama came to the city on Friday to pay respects the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
OK, not really.
The real reason was politics.
The former commander-in-chief has been on a whirlwind tour to gin up turnout for the Nov. 6 midterm contests. In the Philly area alone, Democrats are gunning to unseat Republicans in four U.S. House districts and more than a dozen state legislative seats, per the Associated Press. But Obama was stumping primarily for two incumbents on Friday: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Pa. Gov. Wolf, both of whom face firebrand Republican challengers. (The president hosted a top-dollar fundraiser for Casey immediately after the rally — and you probably can’t afford the entrance fee.)
Anyway, Obama doesn’t get on the stump without a few political targets. And his speech at the Dell Music Center in Fairmount Park had a few common themes.
Voters who blow off midterm elections
This was the undercurrent for most of Obama’s remarks — and the reason he’s been on the road stumping and endorsing some 80 Democrats in pivotal races across the nation. But, yes, midterm election turnout is lackluster in Philly, for both local and national races. And Obama seemed to be speaking directly to the apathetics out there, emphasizing this race above his own presidential election in 2008:
“Some people may not have heard the news yet. So I’m heard to deliver it. This November’s election is more important than any I can remember in my lifetime.”
Slacktivists, who are apparently worse than no-show voters
Obama is coming for our hashtags and possibly our anxiety disorders.
Millennials, who need to put down their phones
OK, this is pretty much the same as slacktivism critique. But the former commander-in-chief clearly has no time for the smartphone crowd making excuses about getting to the polls.
Pennsylania’s lack of women in Congress?
Pennsylvania has a gender parity problem in its government offices, period. Of note, Casey ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and is running against U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a man.
Republicans, for obvious reasons
Obama took a few shots at his successor. He mentioned Trump in passing a handful of times in his 30-some-minute speech, once notably to reiterate his role in the post-recession economic recovery and again to condemn Trump’s war against the FBI. Obama kept much of the emphasis on the U.S. House race at hand and the Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — one of Obama’s signature accomplishments while in office. Healthcare issues are definitely on Pennsylvania’s mind.