Press Release

What They’re Saying: Mandela Barnes and President Obama Rallying Wisconsinites to Early Vote

President Obama: “He’s fought every step of the way to make sure Wisconsinites have opportunity to get ahead just like he did. He believes in the American Dream. If that’s not a true blooded Wisconsin American, I don’t know what is.”

MADISON — Last night, Mandela Barnes, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, was joined by former President Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates for a rally in Milwaukee to talk about the importance of defeating Ron Johnson and the fight to rebuild Wisconsin’s middle class by electing Mandela Barnes. 

Mandela and President Obama discussed the importance of mobilizing voters across the state, continuing the growing momentum for the campaign in the final days before the election. 


See what they’re saying: 

Wisconsin Public Radio: During Wisconsin stop, Obama says Evers, Barnes will ‘fight for you’

  • Former President Barack Obama told a crowd of supporters packed into a Milwaukee high school gymnasium Saturday that they should vote for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes because they’ll fight for them on everything from improving the economy to protecting democracy.
  • “What you should be asking yourself right now is who will fight for you?” Obama said. “Who cares about you? That’s the choice in this election, all the other stuff is surface stuff is distraction.”
  • In a speech that lasted roughly 50 minutes, Obama drew parallels between himself and Barnes, who would be Wisconsin’s first ever Black U.S. senator.
  • “I know that there’s some folks — maybe not in this auditorium, but elsewhere in Wisconsin — who think that just because Mandela’s named Mandela, he must not be like you. He must not share your values,” Obama said. “It sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?”
  • Obama described Barnes as the son of a third-shift worker and a public school teacher who had grown up in one of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods to become Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor.
  • “He’s fought every step of the way to make sure Wisconsinites have opportunity to get ahead just like he did,” Obama said. “He believes in the American Dream. If that’s not a true blooded Wisconsin American, I don’t know what is.”
  • In remarks before Obama spoke, Barnes recalled the former president’s speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention when he was still a state senator from Illinois. Barnes said the speech changed his life and inspired him to get into politics.
  • “There was someone whose story sounded a little bit like mine. Someone who talked about the same issues that I saw day in day out,” Barnes said. “And seeing Barack Obama on that stage — it inspired me and made me realize that maybe if I worked hard enough that I could have the power to make a difference, too.”

The Cap Times: ‘A good crazy’: Barack Obama backs Evers and Barnes in Wisconsin

  • Former President Barack Obama’s message for Wisconsin voters on Saturday was simple: “I’m here to ask you to vote.”
  • The former president visited Milwaukee in the final days of the midterm campaign to support Wisconsin Democrats, as Gov. Tony Evers battles for a second term and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes aims to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
  • Speaking before Obama, Barnes, as he has many times before, told the crowd he “wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my public school education. I also would not be here if it weren’t for the opportunities of Wisconsin manufacturing and the strength of our labor unions.”
  • Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in his hometown, the lieutenant governor sought to draw a contrast between his middle-class upbringing and Johnson’s wealth.
  • “Aren’t we tired of the politicians that put their own profits before our lives?” Barnes asked the crowd. 
  • “People just want opportunity,” he continued. “But we’re never going to get that opportunity as long as Ron Johnson is in office.”
  • Obama criticized the Republican senator on a number of issues, including his suggestion that funding for Social Security and Medicare should be up for renewal every year. 
  • “You know why (people) have Social Security? Because they worked for it,” Obama declared to the crowd. “They worked hard jobs for it. They have chapped hands for it. They had long hours and sore backs and bad knees to get that Social Security. And if Ron Johnson does not understand that … he’s not the person who’s thinking about you and knows you and sees you, and he should not be your senator from Wisconsin.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘Don’t boo. Vote’: Obama seeks to energize Wisconsin Democrats in fiery Milwaukee speech

  • Obama demanded voters in the state’s largest city deliver a level of turnout that hasn’t been seen since he was on the ticket in order to defeat Sen. Ron Johnson and Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels, casting both as wealthy and estranged from the realities of Milwaukee voters.
  • His most forceful criticism was for Johnson’s suggestion to make funding for Social Security subject to approval.
  • “Some of your parents are on Social Security. Some of your grandparents are on Social Security. You know why they have Social Security? Because they worked for it. They worked hard jobs for it. They have chapped hands for it. They have long hours and sore backs and bad knees to get that Social Security,” Obama said.
  • “And if Ron Johnson does not understand that. If he understands giving tax breaks for private planes more than making sure seniors who worked all their lives are able to retire in dignity and respect, he’s not the person that’s thinking about you, and knows you and sees you and he should not be your senator from Wisconsin.”
  • Barnes said Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention piqued his interest in politics and his experience navigating the economy since then as a Millennial undergirds his campaign.
  • “Growing up right here in the city of Milwaukee, in a union household, that’s all I needed,” Barnes said.
  • “It’s a shame to think it was easier for my granddad in World War II to get into the middle class than people my age.”