Transcript for Former President Obama gives rousing speech while accepting ethics award
And there was the return of former president Barack Obama to the political fray an extraordinary. Truly extraordinary speech at University of Illinois Champaign Urbana. Welcome everybody to special edition of the briefing room today this was a moment's. That we have been waiting for the president to return to politics to the campaign trail. He's done it Mary Alice parks deputy political director. Something we haven't seen any recent modern president do come out and basically take down. Their successor. Wow you and I were speechless throughout most of that I would say you know we saw today that citizens Obama. Is pissed off. Worry. And I would turn to borrow his own phrase he's fired up. He was out there speaking for well over an hour and like you said not only eat huge review and dismissal of the current occupant of the White House. But a huge dismissal of the current Republican Party. Yet if president saying that this in many ways. Is beyond the politics of party this moment of crisis of democracy said a pivotal moment consequences more dire. Comparing it to to a slavery moment in our country's history matter called action. In large part to get those students no accident based on a college campus to get out and vote. Let's take a listen to a couple of the highlights there's a lot to unpack and dig into a few manages dipped into the speech halfway through. Let's start with a little bit of sound that caught all of us by surprise or ears perked up. We heard the president mention the name of his successor a couple of times let's take a listen to the president. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely. If wrongly fearful of check. More often it's manufactured. By the powerful. And the privilege. Want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because. That helps them maintain the status for. And keep their power. And keep their privilege. And you happen to becoming a very rich. During one of those balls. It did not start would Donald Trump. He is a symptom. Not the cause. He's just capitalizing on resentment politicians. Have been fanning for years. Again pretty usual to see. A former president directly name his successor and go after him like that. Or else couple interest dean notes here he did mention in twice the Obama team had said he wasn't gonna go directly after our president trump. But he almost spoke past president Frankie was just eight you know rest simply. And I symptoms are not here pod but I was struck by the fact that he did not call trump the president he did not say president Donald Trump. In some way. Dismissing him potentially the mailing him. And like you said. Really speaking beyond the current practice he said that it was the Republican Party that had caused. This president and he called the Republicans out for as he said knowing better and not standing up suit is presently is that he thought. Should be there was so extraordinary that president Obama laid out an argument here of the takeover of the Republican Party that that Donald Trump in effect had done he can cause suggested downturns in demagogue. Here and let's take a listen to two. To the president essentially taking down the essence of what many Democrats say is Donald Trump is in this appealing to a sense of tribe. Take a listen to that. It's. Appealing to fear. Pitting one group against another. Telling people that order and security. Will be restored it. If it weren't for those. Who don't look like answered don't sound like just don't pray like we do. That's an old playbook. It's as old as time. And in a healthy democracy. It doesn't. So many Democrats in this mid term season and to kind of pivot off yeah president's argument there and sort of seek to tie Republicans is you were saying tunes that mentality to. A policy level they've gone. Off off the rails there are no longer conservatives but he was getting at something deeper blaming Republicans for politics of addition and the year. And repeatedly calling that. Radical and not norm law and something anyone regardless of there. Policy ideas and policy prescriptions should be fighting against releasing. To suggest the president now lot on his chat you have when daddy did it through some pollen winds down very authentic policies not just this. Broader idea of values and culture but he he asked the current president for the idea of the wall for taking in that country out of the climate agreement for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. For separating. Parents and chosen at the border for how he handled Puerto Rico it seemed like two years of frustration. Pent up and meant it. Making the point its own much of what this president has done and many in congress Republicans in congress have signed on to. Is antithetical to what has traditionally been mainstream Republican policies including a foreign policy when it comes to Russia lets us that our. It. We are. Americans were supposed to stand up to vote. It's. Paula. It was respond to stand up to discrimination. And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally. Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be saying that Nazis are bad. Our alliances. Closing up to Russia. What happen to the Republican Party. It's central organizing principle. It or policy. The fight. Against communism. And now they're closing up to the former head of the KGB. Actively blocking legislation. That would defend our elections from Russian attack what happened. President seeming to sound to my ear to be appealing very much Mary Alice to independent voters. Those fence voters. Perhaps clean things up for the Tory Tory campaign as well but. Those suburban Y eight. College educated voters many of whom went for Donald Trump. President Obama their seeming to appeal to their sense of common cents. An announcer at. He had something in there for everyone made a point talking about the fact that. He was able to win crossed political spectrum doesn't pull across ethnic answer regional spectrums in the country. He said that he asserts hire a party's thinking that they had only portions of the country carved out for them. But I was struck by the fact that. Not only did he reach far back into the beginning of this administration. And look ahead to two point one that he was talking about the news of this week as well. Alluding suit that op Ed in the New York Times that has. Cause a lot mr. here in Washington this idea that people in the administration high senior officials in the administration. Are working to. Chapter subvert the president and his impulses. We can listens where President Obama talked about how. He thought that was essentially power. And then everything. Turned out okay because there people inside. The White House who has frequently are following the president's orders. Bennett not a check I'm being serious here that's not how our democracy's most work. And we're not accountable. Not doing office service. I actively promoted 90% of the crazy stuff that's coming out this White House and then. Saying don't Wear were providing the other 10%. And that just simply stunning it was about president wade into this meanwhile talk about split screens we don't think the president trump. Sign in his speech he just landed North Dakota. And was asked. Almost as president along with saying that what he thinks about the op Ed today and president trumps that he wants the Justice Department Jeff Sessions to launch an investigation into who. The person. Is that wrote that op Ed so it. Extra an Angel and as a Obama says it is not Democrat or Republican issue to reject the idea to use your Justice Department got your political. Really kinda print offers. And before we go just. Take a look to the big picture of this Mary Haas the president President Obama now hitting the campaign trail he's going to be in California this weekend. I also an Ohio next week campaigning for house candidates that this is not the last we've seen or heard from him. Our but it does carry some political respite to potentially for these Democrats who are gonna watch themselves on Obama. Absolutely he fires up a crowd he can bring out Democrats but he also can bring out Republicans. We know that President Obama has beens of bison in the past and I can see it being politically risky for both sides in the same way that president trump. Can be politically risky for Republicans when he visits as Bob. And we'll see if President Obama gets drawn into very public fight with president blank if you write mean I would like. The tweets start flying obviously something to keep an eye on because that in his political risks as well for twenty point. Much more had on the afternoon in addition to briefing room here and ABC news live but for Mary Alice parks deputy political director I'm Devin Dwyer Washington. Thanks for war.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.