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Andrew Roth / Michigan Advance

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats in Detroit on October 29, 2022.

In a packed gymnasium at Detroit’s Renaissance High School, Michigan Democratic Party representatives gathered with former President Barack Obama on Saturday, asking supporters to bring their friends, family and neighbors to the polls.

In the 10 days leading up to the election, candidates and officials stressed the importance of voting rights, abortion and other key political issues.

“Public education is on this ballot, our economic future is on this ballot, our democracy is on this ballot and the right to choose is on this ballot,” said Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Obama also joined Attorney General Dana Nessel; Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit); U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield); U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing); Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, state Supreme Court nominee Kyra Harris Bolden (D-Southfield), National Education Association President Rebecca Pringle; and American Federation of Teachers President Randy Weingarten.

Whitmer will face Republican Tudor Dixon on Nov. 8; Nessel vs. Republican Matt DePerne; Benson faces Republican Christina Karamo; Tlaib takes on Steven Elliott; and Bernstein and Bolden are running against GOP nominees Judges Brian Zahra and Paul Hudson.

Whitmer, Benson, and Nessel focused on their own accomplishments while targeting their opponents’ opposition to abortion rights and their denial the legitimacy of the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden.

Instead of celebrating a record 5.5 million voters in the 2020 election, Michigan has served as ground zero for an organized attack on democracy, Benson said.

“We fight election deniers and call them denialists for one simple reason: They deny the truth about who won the election,” Benson said.

Nessel accused Depern of supporting a ban on abortion and resist contraception by having in comparison Plan B, known as morning-after pills, to the deadly narcotic fentanyl.

Several speakers criticized Karamo recent litigation that would require in-person voting in Detroit, and a similar lawsuit filed in Flint by the Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee alleging the city did not hire enough Republican election officials.

This appears to violate the Michigan Constitution, as absentee voting without any reason is guaranteed by Proposition 3 of 2018.

“The new strategy is to cancel the votes of people who disagree with you,” Duggan said.

“Let’s really piss off Christina Karamo. Come out, vote early,” Dagan added.

In his speech, Obama praised Whitmer’s performance as governor and reflected on the differences in the political landscape during his 2008 presidential campaign and the polarization of the Democratic and Republican parties today.

“People disagreed with me, but I could go into communities, mostly Republican, mostly conservative, and I could have a conversation,” Obama said.

“When [Republicans] gain control of Congress, they will spend the next two years investigating their political opponents,” Obama said. “How will this help you and your family?”

Obama also discussed the dangers and divisive political conspiracies that point to the recent violent attack on Paul Pelosi, part of an effort to target US House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California).

“We have politicians who are working to be divisive, to try to make each other angry and afraid for their own benefit,” Obama said. “It can get dangerous at times.”

At this point, Obama was booed and the man was removed from the audience.

“That’s what I mean,” Obama said. “… You wouldn’t do that in the workplace. This is not how we do things. That’s part of what I want to do. Just basic politeness and courtesy works.”

The former president also referenced a conspiracy theory Dixon shared on her former right-wing talk show that Democrats are working on overthrow the US in retaliation for defeat in the civil war as reported by CNN.

If your plumber tried to tell you about the latest conspiracy, you would find another plumber, Obama said.

“If you have a good plumber, you keep him. When you have a person who knows how to do their job, you get them to do that job,” Obama said.

Originally published on October 30, 2022 Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.

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