Barack Obama has blasted Trump’s deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as a ‘political stunt’ in a fiery speech on Friday.
The former President slammed Republicans for their aggressive stance against migrants trying to enter the United States during his speech rallying for Florida Democrats in Miami.
‘They’re telling you the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees a thousand miles away,’ he said on Republicans.
‘They’re even taking our brave troops away from their families for a political stunt at the border. The men and women of our military deserve better than that. So they’re just constant fear-mongering to distract from the record,’ he added.
His rebuke comes as some 7,000 military members are set to arrive at the border through the weekend. Trump says he’s willing to send as many as 15,000 to support Border Patrol agents.
On Thursday the first 109 troops from the 591st Military Police Company were taken from Fort Hood, Texas, to Lackland Air Force Base to help with operations there and on Friday the troops began to set up barbed wire on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge.
The troops that continue to trickle will likely meet the third caravan of 1,000 to 1,500 migrants who trekked from El Salvador and waded over the Suchiate River into Mexico on Friday.
On Thursday Trump sparked outrage when he told reporters that if migrants throw rocks at troops or border patrol officers, the U.S. will retaliate.
‘I don’t want these people throwing rocks,’ the president said on Thursday, reflecting on violence that erupted on Mexico’s southern border as the first of four caravans of Central Americans made their way north last week.
‘What they did to the Mexican military is a disgrace,’ he said. ‘They hit them with rocks. Some were very seriously injured, and they were throwing rocks in their face. [If] they do that with us, they’re going to be arrested. There’s going to be problems.’
‘I didn’t say shoot. I didn’t say shoot! But they do that with us, they’re going to be arrested for a long time,’ he warned.
Speaking at the Miami rally wasn’t easy for Obama, who was heckled by protesters.
But he handled the angry shouts and boos with grace saying: ‘This is what I look forward to – is having a few hecklers to get me back in the mood. I enjoy that. You always got to have a few in order to know that you’re on the campaign trail.’
At one point he addressed one heckler saying: ‘Here’s the deal. If you support the other candidates, then you should go support the other candidates. Don’t be here.’
‘One of the things I never understood was why if you’re supporting the other guy, you come to my rally. Go to their rally,’ he added.
He was campaigning for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, and Andrew Gillum, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Obama is ramping up his campaign trail stops to push voters towards the polls as the midterm elections are four days away.
After his stop in Miami, Obama headed to Georgia rallying for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams who is in a deadlocked race with Republican Brian Kemp, saying: ‘I’m here for one simple reason: To ask you to vote’.
‘The consequences of any of us staying home are profound because America is at a crossroads … The character of our country is on the ballot,’ he added.
He also accused Republicans of using ‘scare tactics’ in the election.
‘They’ll try to disenfranchise people and take away their right to vote…Stacey’s opponent has already been caught multiple times,’ he said.
Abrams has accused Kemp of voter suppression, accusations he calls ‘farce’.
‘Georgia, be unafraid. If they try to take away your right to vote, there’s only one way to take it back: Vote,’ he said.
On Friday Trump was campaigning for Republicans in West Virginia.
As the campaign trail heats up ahead of the elections, tensions are rising at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The third caravan just entered Mexico on Friday. They were not allowed to cross the bridge from Guatemala to Mexico so the group waded across the Suchiate River to enter Mexican territory.
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