He’s been waiting for a moment where he can have the most impact.
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If you’ve been waiting and wondering when Barack Obama would step off the sidelines and get into the game against President Trump, your wait is finally over.
On Friday, Obama will formally enter the political arena once again, when he delivers the first of a number of speeches that offer a “pointed” rebuke of Trump’s first two years in office.
"We thought it was important to find a setting where he can find a cogent, rational argument outside of the more chaotic campaign appearances that come this fall," one adviser told CNN. "The speech will lay down a frame and his message for fall. He will lay out his views about where we are and where we go from here."
From there, he will appear with a number of Democratic candidates at campaign stops to help shape his party’s message for the midterm elections.
Those close to Obama say they still aren’t sure how often he will target Trump by name but that "no one will come away thinking he held back or held his punches."
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For the past 18 months, Obama has largely stayed quiet on the Trump presidency. He’s occasionally weighed in to offer positive support for the Parkland shooting survivors, or in other moments where he the nation painfully needs his presence in a role typically reserved for active duty presidents.
Obama’s advisers said the former president gave a strong hint of how he’ll frame his argument against Trump during a speech while visiting South Africa in July. During that speech, he warned against authoritarian governments and the rise of “strong man” leaders:
"The politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear. And that kind of politics is now on the move. It's on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago," he told the audience in Johannesburg. "I am not being alarmist, I'm simply stating the facts. Look around — strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in powers seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning."
However, others close to Obama say he’ll also use the memory of his own two successful presidential campaigns to remind people that getting out in support of something is just as important as what they are voting against.
"People in power want us to believe that the rest of us are powerless to solve our problems through democracy,” one source told NBC News. “And when people stop showing up, like in 2010 and 2014 where fewer people voted, a vacuum forms, and a politics of fear and resentment fills that void."