Obama's speech in the university's 1,300-person auditorium has seen sizable interest from the school's student body, according to university spokesman Jon Davis, who said they had received around 22,000 requests for tickets. "He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been capitalizing on for years", Obama said. The alternative of sitting on the sidelines given all of these factors, he explained, was simply not an option.
"Let's just remember when this economy started" improving, he said. "People of good will from across the political spectrum call out the bigots and the fear mongers and work to compromise and get things done". "These are extraordinary times and they are unsafe times". "These are unsafe times". It did not start with Donald Trump.
Trump responded during a campaign appearance in North Dakota, saying that Obama was trying to take credit for this "incredible thing that's happening to our country". "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".
"We are Americans", he said.
Citing the rise of the far-right and its trafficking in conspiracy theories - including the origins of his birthplace and a war on "science and facts" - Obama asked: "What happened to the Republican party?"
"It's not conservative, it sure isn't normal".
And he came harder than we expected, including finally mentioning Donald Trump by name.
Still, he believes America will make it through this period: "We have been through much darker times than these and somehow each generation of Americans have carried us through to the other side".
The former president's remarks in IL came ahead of a series of campaign stops to help fellow Democrats running in the November midterm elections. Obama asked in a speech at the University of IL.
He will appear at a September 13 rally in OH with Richard Cordray, a former Obama appointee, who is running for governor in a state that is also one of the top targets for the Holder effort. He's expected to hold a rally with OH gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray Thursday, and with seven Democratic House candidates in California Saturday.
Next week, Obama plans to campaign in Ohio for Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for governor, and Ohio Democrats.
Both parties are urging their core supporters to get to the polls for the November 6 midterm elections, when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in the House of Representatives and two seats in the Senate to gain majorities in Congress and slam the brakes on Trump's agenda.