Speaking at a rally in Miami, Fla., to boost Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, Obama said that he deserved more credit for the current economic landscape, telling the crowd: “By the time I left office … the economy was growing. And by the way that growth has just kept on going.”
“Right now Republicans are all ‘Look the economy’s so good,’” he said. “Where do you think that started? When did that start?”
Data released by the Department of Labor on Friday showed that the economy added a quarter-million jobs last month, giving the White House and its allies something to tout heading into Tuesday’s midterm elections. The numbers also showed that wages made their largest year-over-year gain since 2009 and that unemployment dipped to 3.7 percent.
Trump lauded the report, writing in a tweet: "These are incredible numbers. Keep it going, Vote Republican!"
But Obama on Friday attempted to throw cold water on the celebrations.
“They’re talking about how ‘Oh look how many jobs we created.’ The economy created more jobs in the last 21 months that I was in office than it did in the 20 months after I left office. And at the time they were saying how terrible the economy was,” he said.
Republicans have insisted that their tax overhaul has been one of the biggest contributors to recent economic gains, and the closing days of the election have been spent making the argument that keeping the GOP in charge will only ensure that those gains continue.
Trump has deviated from that message, choosing a strategy that stokes fears about immigration while painting a Congress with Democrats in charge as a mob scene, using the slogan “jobs not mobs” to rally his base.
Obama made the argument Friday that GOP boasting about economic gains that began under his administration is part of a larger effort within the party aimed to “distract from the record.”
He hit Trump and his allies for using immigration and scare tactics to “to terrify folks,” adding that in the past “the election comes and the problem suddenly, magically, vanishes.”
The former president implored voters not to be “bamboozled” by flashy proposals emanating from the White House, saying that Trump’s decision to order at least 5,000 and as many as 15,000 troops to fortify the U.S.-Mexico border does nothing but take “brave troops away from their families for a political stunt.”
“And the men and women in our military deserve better than that,” he said.
He said Republicans who say they will fight to maintain the protections for those with pre-existing conditions enshrined in his signature health care law are “ blatantly, repeatedly, falsely, shamelessly lying.”
“The point is, they make stuff up,” Obama said Friday. “But also the problem is, too often we fall for it. Too often we fall for the distractions."