ANAHEIM (CNS) - Former President Barack Obama is set to speak at a rally today at the Anaheim Convention Center intended to boost the chances of seven California Democratic congressional candidates seeking to capture Republican seats.
Longtime Democratic activist Jeff LeTourneau, the vice chairman of the party's north Orange County chapter, said he is excited about seeing Obama.
“Of all the years I've been doing politics I've never met him or seen him live, so I'm excited and honored to be asked to come,” LeTourneau said.
The activist expects Obama's visit to “reinvigorate efforts” to elect Democrats in traditionally Republican Orange County.
“This event has been buzzing for four days with people coming out of the woodwork to try to attend,” LeTourneau said.
Orange County Republican Chairman Fred Whitaker said Obama's visit represents a double-edged sword as his party is fundraising off the appearance.
“Their base can go have a rally, but it gets my base more motivated,” Whitaker said. “It works for me.”
The Republican Party of Orange County sent out an email Friday signed by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, encouraging party members “to volunteer at your closest Republican field office to make phone calls or knock on doors” this weekend.
“Many Republicans have called our Republican headquarters to ask what we can do in response to President Obama's visit,” Walters wrote. “Do not let his visit distract us from our goal. While he and the Democrats talk to themselves we must talk to voters.”
Democratic congressional candidate Harley Rouda, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, said he was “very excited to have him come to Orange County and support all these campaigns and help us flip Congress from red to blue.”
Rouda was also happy to see Obama take on his successor, President Donald Trump, more forcefully in a Friday speech.
“It's the first time in Trump's presidency we've seen President Obama come out and make statements where he thinks our country needs to go and what's appropriate behavior for the United States,” Rouda said.
“I think Democrats, no party preference and moderate Republicans long for the day of `no drama Obama,' instead of the current president,” Rouda said.
In a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Friday, Obama encouraged students to cast a ballot in November.
“If you don't like what's going on ... Do not complain. Don't hashtag. Don't get anxious. Don't retreat. Don't binge on whatever it is you're binging on. Don't lose yourself in ironic detachment. Don't put your head in the sand. Don't boo. Vote. Vote," Obama said.
Doors will open at 10 a.m. and some speakers will take the stage from 10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Obama is expected to speak at 11:30 a.m.
About 750 people are expected to attend the event, according to organizers.
Six of the seven Democratic congressional candidates the rally is being held on behalf of are expected to attend. Katie Hill, who is challenging Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, in the Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley's 25th Congressional District, had a prior engagement and cannot make it.
Democrats are hoping to flip four Republican seats in Orange County in November.
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