Former president Barack Obama delivered a biting critique of Republicans in Washington and President Donald Trump’s administration at a midterm rally for Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen in Las Vegas but avoided mentioning his successor by name.

US President Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senator Cruz.
US President Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senator Cruz. (Reuters)

President Donald Trump escalated his immigration rhetoric at a midterm rally in Texas on Monday as early voting opened in the state, falsely accusing Democrats of “encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overwhelm our nation.”

With weeks to go before Election Day, Trump is seeking to drive Republican turnout with his hard-line immigration policies. 

He cast the November choice in stark terms before the Houston rally for Republican Senator Ted Cruz, saying Democrats “have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country.”

Trump spoke before a massive crowd on behalf of his former foe, who faces a strong challenge from Democratic representative Beto O’Rourke. 

When the two competed in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Trump would frequently deride his rival as “Lyin’ Ted” but said in Texas that their relationship had come a long way.

“Nobody has helped me more with your tax cut, with your regulation,” Trump said, also attacking O’Rourke, as a “stone-cold phony.”

With the midterms drawing near, Trump has emphasized immigration, targeting a 7,000-strong migrant caravan heading to the US southern border. 

The president’s focus on immigration politics comes as he seeks to counter Democratic enthusiasm in November. 

Trump believes that his campaign pledges, including his much vaunted — and still-unfulfilled — promise to quickly build a US-Mexico border wall, are still rallying cries.

The hard-line rhetoric may be popular among the red-state rural Republicans who will play an outsized role in the top Senate contests. 

But it may further alienate the moderate Republicans and women in the overwhelmingly suburban races that will decide the House majority — including several in Texas, California and Florida that feature large Hispanic populations.

On Monday night, Trump called the caravan an “assault on our country” and suggested, without citing evidence, that “Democrats had something to do with it.” He added: “We need a wall built fast.”

Speaking before Trump took the stage, Cruz made clear that their conflict was behind them and that the two were working together. 

His biggest applause came when he predicted that “in 2020, Donald Trump will be overwhelmingly re-elected.”

Although political relationships tend to be fluid, Trump’s appearance for Cruz is notable, given that the two were bitter enemies during the 2016 primaries. 

After Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and father, and Cruz refused to endorse Trump at the Republican convention, it was far from clear that the two would ever put it all behind them.

But they started rebuilding in the closing days of the campaign and have worked together since Trump took the White House.

Cruz, who is leading O’Rourke in the polls, said over the summer that he would welcome Trump’s support, though he has brushed off any suggestion he’d need Trump to win.

Early voting opened across Texas on Monday, bringing long lines and record first-day midterm turnout in Houston and complaints about outdated technology slowing people casting ballots elsewhere.

Obama stumps for Rosen

Former president Barack Obama delivered a biting critique of Republicans in Washington and President Donald Trump's administration on Monday but avoided mentioning his successor by name.

Obama, speaking at a rally in Las Vegas for Nevada Democrats, said Republicans had promised to "fight for the little guy" but instead helped corporations and sowed divisions in America.

Obama was in Nevada to drum up support for Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen, who is in a tight race against incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller, and energise voters in the swing state who delivered big for Democrats in 2016 but stayed home during the midterm elections in 2014.

Obama, who won the state in 2008 and 2012, railed against the GOP tax law, efforts to repeal his Affordable Care Act, Trump's attacks on the media, political pressure he's put on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Obama also criticized Heller, saying, "the current senator, he doesn't seem to be willing to stand up to this. He just goes along, even when you get a sense he knows it's not right."

Rosen, a first-term congresswoman, is seen as one of Democrats' best opportunities to flip control of a Senate seat, though the party faces slim chances of taking control of the Senate.

She narrowly won election to her Las Vegas-area district in 2014 and is taking on a politician who not only has already won a statewide election but has never lost an election despite serving nearly three decades in public offices.

Democrats are also in a close battle for the governor's office, which will oversee state and federal redistricting occurring after the 2020 census.

Obama's rally included specific appeals to young people and Latinos, key demographics who can boost Democrat numbers if they participate. The rally at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas arena included performances from hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa and Columbian reggaeton star J Balvin and a speech from actress America Ferrera.

Obama said not voting this November would be "profoundly dangerous to this country, to our democracy." He also reminded the crowd that the 2011 killing of Os ama bin Laden occurred under his watch and that the economic recovery that Trump often takes credit for started during his administration.

"When you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it," Obama said.

Obama also touted the campaigns of Nevada gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak and US House candidates Susie Lee and Steven Horsford.

Obama endorsed candidates up and down the ballot around the country, but in September, he broke with the traditional deference that past presidents show successors and gave a sharp critique of Trump.

In subsequent appearances for Democrats in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania, he avoided a similar reproach and instead focused on urging people to vote.

Source: AP