WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama announced endorsements Wednesday of 81 Democratic candidates in the November midterm elections, and said he is "eager" to help his party gain seats in a contest widely seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

While Obama did not mention Trump by name, he said in the public statement outlining his plans that he wanted to lend his status to help candidates who would fight for shared opportunity, help repair alliances abroad and further a commitment to justice.

He described his picks as "diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted."

Obama weighed into races for governor, the House of Representatives, Senate and also for state legislative seats. He backed Georgia gubenatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Nevada Senate candidate Jacky Rosen and Sean Casten, running in a tossup House district in Illinois.

Obama has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office last year, and many Democrats have been keen to get the president – still widely popular within the party – onto the campaign trail. Democrats are battling for control of the House, and need to flip a net 23 seats to take over that chamber. They face a more daunting challenge in the Senate, where Republicans hold a two-seat majority but where Democrats are struggling to defend seats in several states that Trump won in 2016.

“I’m confident that, together, they’ll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity that’s broadly shared, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law," Obama said in a statement.

"But first, they need our votes – and I’m eager to make the case for why Democratic candidates deserve our votes this fall.”