Barack Obama asks Arizonans to consider which candidates will protect democracy

Nov 2, 2022, 10:35 PM | Updated: 10:37 pm

PHOENIX — Former President Barack Obama hammered the importance for Arizonans to cast their ballots before or on Election Day in a nearly hour-long speech at a Democratic rally in Phoenix Wednesday night.

Obama, who has been on the campaign trail in battleground states, asked Arizona voters to consider three questions: Who will fight for freedoms? Who will fight for working people? Who will fight for democracy?

He used these questions to dive into some of the biggest races on Arizona’s ballot, endorsing gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes and Attorney General candidate Kris Mayes.

Obama highlighted Kelly’s involvement in the Senate passing bipartisan gun safety legislation over the summer and discussed abortion, contraceptives and LGBTQ rights. He said the overturning of Roe v. Wade showed the country can go backwards and said the long-term fate of abortion rights in Arizona are at stake during this election.

He also endorsed Prop 308, which would allow students regardless of immigration status to pay in-state tuition for college if they attended an Arizona high school or the home school equivalent for at least two years and graduated.

The former president spent most of his time on the third question, though, with candidates who dispute the results of the 2020 election on the Republican ticket such as gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Senate candidate Blake Masters.

He said democracy is on the ballot this election and nowhere is that clearer than Arizona. Obama stressed the dangers of voting for leaders who willingly lie about the election results, asking, “What happens when the truth does not matter?”

“You deserve, as a baseline, leaders who believe every one of your votes count,” Obama said.

Obama said he understands polls that say voters are more concerned with the economy than democracy but warned how far those who seek to change how elections operate in the state can go.

He called the candidates who dispute the results of the 2020 election too extreme, pointing to Fontes’ opponent, Mark Finchem, and his presence at the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“Folks can win if we don’t do our part, and if you have election deniers serving as your governor, as your senator, as your secretary of state, as your attorney general then democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona,” Obama said. “That’s not an exaggeration, that is a fact. That should transcend party labels.”

Obama addressed the temptation to stay away from politics with how contentious rhetoric has become but said tuning out is not an option with such an important vote.

He instructed those looking to vote to visit to find information on how to cast a ballot.

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Barack Obama asks Arizonans to consider which candidates will protect democracy