North County Congressional candidate Democrat Mike Levin was at a rally in Anaheim with former President Barack Obama Saturday afternoon.
During his speech, Obama praised Levin as a tireless advocate for the environment. "He's the kind of champion we're going to need in Congress right now," Obama said. "Somebody who's going to be a leader on environmental issues, a leader on climate change, a fighter to make sure everybody's getting higher wages, working to prevent gun violence, working to protect our health care."
Obama said when there is a vacuum in "our democracy, other voices fill the void, but the good news is in two months we have a chance to restore some sanity into our politics."
He spoke at the Anaheim Convention Center with the hopes of boosting the chances of seven U.S. House candidates running crucial races in California.
“There's no set of issues that we can’t solve if we’re working together and we’re true to the traditions that are best in America,” Obama said. "If we don't step up, things are going to get worse."
The former president has largely stayed out of politics since President Trump took office, but he returned Friday to speak at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“They stepped up, they’re fired up, they’re ready to go!” Obama said of the candidates to cheers in the crowd Saturday.
Mike Levin is battling Republican Diane Harkey for Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in the 49th district. Issa announced his retirement last January. President Trump recently endorsed Harkey on Twitter.
Diane Harkey responded to Obama's appearance with a statement that read in part, "the voters in the 49th district, not the Washington, D.C. politicians, will determine the outcome of our race."
Last Wednesday via Twitter, Levin wrote, “My opponent can have the endorsement of @realDonaldTrump — I’ll take @BarackObama.” He also said he was “[t]hrilled that @BarackObama is coming to Orange County this Saturday to support seven key Congressional campaigns, including ours! It’s an incredible honor to have his support.”
Dr. Casey Dominguez of the University of San Diego told NBC 7, “One of the things that Dems need to do is get a lot of people to come out and knock on doors for campaigns, and there's no better way to motivate people than to have President Obama tell them to do it.”
Dominguez also said Obama will likely do substantial fundraising for Levin and the other candidates.
The 49th district encompasses Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas and a small portion of southern Orange County.
"And if these candidates win, I am absolutely confident that Washington will start working better, and if Washington starts working better, we are going to solve the problems that this country faces, and we're going to deliver to our kids the kind of brighter future that they deserve," he finished.
All seven races are considered essential in the Democrats’ efforts to win back control of the House of Representatives.
Traditionally, Orange County has been a Republican stronghold.
The other candidates Obama rallied for were Josh Harder, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda and Katie Hill.