Obama pushes for more voting participation during Manningcast appearance

If you don’t watch Monday Night Football, ESPN runs the “ManningCast,” a game simulcast hosted by brothers and former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, with a rotating cast of guests and a lot of jokes and stories and varying amounts of attention paid to the game in front of them. Last night, as the Chicago Bears crushed the New England Patriots, former president Barack Obama was the guest — and as expected, he made a get-out-the-vote pitch, but some of the points he chose to emphasize were a little curious.

Obama has been cutting ads and hitting the campaign trail in the past few months in an effort to boost Democratic candidates ahead of the midterm election. 

“Listen, every election is important in a democracy and regardless of where you stand on the issues, you taken 15-20 minutes out to let your voice be heard, makes a big difference,” Obama told Peyton, along with his brother, former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, on Monday’s simulcast, also noting various issues on voters minds during the election cycle. 

“And you’ve got all kinds of issues from jobs, the economy, climate change, you name it, that is essentially on the ballot,” Obama added. “If you’re deciding who’s going to speak for you and you should make sure that somebody actually cares about you.” 

Obama also urged viewers to register to vote online through the Democratic National Committee (DNC)’s voting registration initiative and shared that he and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama already voted in their home state of Illinois. 

“You have mail-in voting, or you can go on Election Day on November 8, but the key thing is you know, don’t let…don’t pass up the opportunity to participate,” Obama told the Manning brothers. “Because, you know, if you’re unhappy with how things are, the good news is the way our system set up, you can actually bring about some change.” 

Obama’s remarks come as November’s midterm elections approach as both Democrats and Republicans look to gain majority control of the House and Senate chambers. 

Obama also said during his appearance on the popular simulcast that he sees similarities in the way how the national media covers national politics and professional sports, adding that media outlets are looking for more “clickbait” articles to stir up more controversy and attention.

First, I’m not sure the DNC, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee want Obama going on national television and telling people that if they’re unhappy with the way things are, they should go cast ballots for change. Second, in a year when Democratic candidates are emphasizing abortion, January 6, and Donald Trump, I wonder how they feel about Obama listing off “jobs and the economy” as the first issue atop his mind.

There have always been signs that the Obama–Biden relationship was a little more complicated and prickly than either man pretended it was in public, with stories indicating that each one felt the other had been insufficiently respectful or deferential at times. It is difficult to believe that Obama’s “change”/”economy” messaging when reminding people to vote in the midterms was entirely accidental.

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