After taking a year off to enjoy life outside of the Oval Office, former President Barack Obama is stepping back into the political arena.
The 44th president of the United States has kept a relatively low profile since moving out of the White House in January 2017. But now, Obama is planning to return to politics, the Chicago Tribune reported.
According to his spokeswoman, Katie Hill, Obama will "continue to be politically active in 2018, with more endorsements and more campaigning." Other sources close to Obama are also predicting a more politically active year for the former president, including campaign stops and displays of public support.
Obama spent some of 2017 traveling the world after spending eight years in the White House. Former top strategist David Axelrod said the former president has felt "liberated" since leaving office.
"He must feel 100 pounds lighter," Axelrod, who is head of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, told the Chicago Tribune. "He is still deeply concerned about the world, and the things that always concerned him, but there’s something to be said about not having those red phones around him, metaphorically speaking."
Although he has enjoyed his time off, Obama vowed to stay politically relevant. He has publicly remarked on some of President Donald Trump's executive actions and general behavior, though he rarely identifies him by his name.
Obama has also condemned Republican efforts to abolish Obamacare, and has spoken in favor of protecting the rights of so-called "Dreamers." He was particularly critical of Trump's decision to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
The former president did make a few campaign appearances in 2017, as well. He appeared in Virginia to support gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, and appeared in New Jersey for now-Gov. Phil Murphy.
While Trump's approval ratings continue to sink to record lows, Obama's ratings have only gone up, according to Gallup polls, Newsweek reports. Obama's popularity rating has shot up to over 60 percent since he left office. His rating was even higher than Trump's in Alabama, a state that is traditionally Republican.
Obama's expected return to politics could prove to be crucial with midterm elections right around the corner. Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter on Jan. 19 to address the possibility of a government shutdown.
"Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives," Trump tweeted. "Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"