(ABC News) — Former President Obama is set to make his much-anticipated, first post-presidential appearance on the campaign trail today, speaking at events for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia before elections there next month.
Obama’s re-emergence comes as President Trump has taken aim at various parts of his legacy, including the Iran Deal and the Affordable Care Act, and as the controversy around Trump’s interactions with families of fallen U.S. soldiers persists.
It is unlikely that Obama will directly call out President Trump and will probably speak in general terms about the importance of honoring veterans, aides to the former president told ABC News.
He will instead put a major emphasis on the economy and the state of politics, they said.
“It’s in no one’s interest – including the former president’s, the Democratic Party’s, or the country’s – for President Obama to become the face of any resistance or the party,” a senior adviser to the former president wrote in a statement to ABC News, “Instead, he is creating the space for leaders in the party to craft the best path forward that will make our country better.
“He is acutely aware that when he consumes political oxygen, it can stifle the attention that should be on current and emerging leaders in the party.”
In New Jersey, Obama will attend a “canvass kickoff” event in Newark, New Jersey, with Democratic candidate Phil Murphy, who has held a sizable lead in most polls over his opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Obama will then head to Richmond, Virginia, in the evening for a rally with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is locked in a tight race with former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.
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Virginia is largely considered the only competitive statewide race in the nation this year, and a recent poll from Monmouth University gave Gillespie a 1 point edge over Northam, highlighting the importance of Obama’s visit to the state with the election less than three weeks away.
Obama is still popular in Virginia, a state he won twice as a presidential candidate. A poll released Wednesday by Fox News had his favorability rating at 57 percent among likely voters in the state.
The elections in New Jersey and Virginia will take place Nov. 7.