Former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail Thursday for Phil Murphy, the Democratic nominee for governor in New Jersey, marking his first campaign appearance since leaving office in January.
Obama spoke at the invite-only canvas kickoff with grassroots supporters in an attempt to help propel Murphy into the seat currently held by New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Obama, who has kept a low profile in recent months with the exception of occasional statements and events, also campaigned for Ralph Northam, Democrats' pick for Virginia governor, Thursday afternoon.
Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and ex-Goldman Sachs executive, appears to be in for a smooth election day so far. He leads Republican opponent Kim Guadagno by an average of 16.5 points in the polls, according to a Real Clear Politics aggregation of recent polls. Whoever wins, the victor will replace a governor with dismal approval ratings. In June, a Quinnipiac University poll found Christie had only a 15 percent approval rating in the Garden State. The election is Nov. 7.
Scroll below for coverage of the earlier event.
"We are rejecting a politics of fear," Obama says
4:41 p.m. The former president urged the crowd to have hope, and promote the value that everyone has worth.
"We are rejecting a politics of fear," Obama said.
"You cannot complain if you didn't vote," Obama says
4:38 p.m. Obama said the most important office in America is not president or governor, but citizen.
"All of us have a responsibility to make our democracy work," Obama said.
"You cannot complain if you didn't vote," he added.
"This is the 21st Century, not the 19th Century," Obama says
4:35 p.m. The former president lamented the state of modern-day politics.
"Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed," Obama said.
"This is the 21st Century, not the 19th Century," Obama added, to an eruption of applause.
Obamacare comes up
4:32 p.m. Obama spent a few moments mentioning some of the accomplishments of his administration, including cutting the unemployment rate. As President Trump and Republicans look to dismantle his Affordable Care Act, the former president mentioned that milestone, too.
"And oh, by the way, we covered a whole bunch of folks with insurance too," Obama said.
Obama: The world counts on America having its act together
4:30 p.m. Obama, mentioning Murphy's time as ambassador to Germany, said the world is looking to the U.S. and counting on America having its act together.
"What are our priorities? What are our values?" Obama asked.
Crowd chants "four more years" after Obama takes stage
4:23 p.m. Murphy asked everyone to stand as Obama took the stage.
Obama said it was good to be back in New Jersey, and the crowd erupted in chants of, "four more years, four more years."
"I will refer you both to the Constitution as well as to Michelle Obama to explain why that will not happen," Obama joked.
Phil Murphy says he won't go to the beach alone
4:18 p.m. Murphy, taking a shot at Christie, said he wouldn't go to the beach by himself. When he goes to the beach, everyone goes to the beach, he said.
Christie ventured to the beach during a government shutdown over the summer, drawing ire from critics. Christie defended his decision.
Phil Murphy joins the stage, finally
4:12 p.m. More than 40 minutes after the rally was supposed to start, Murphy took to the stage.
"How cool is this folks, huh?" the candidate said.
Murphy thanked his supporters and family, saying that 19 days out, his team can "take nothing for granted."