U.S. President Barack Obama painted an optimistic picture of America’s future and offered full-throated support for Hillary Clinton’s bit to beat Donald Trump, warning the 2016 race was not just about politics, but the nature of democracy in the country.
In a speech that electrified the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Obama urged Democrats to enable Clinton to finish the job he started with his election nearly eight years.
The election, Obama said, was “not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right.”
“This is a more fundamental choice,” he said.
In the city where America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, Obama declared the November election a “fundamental choice” about what the country is and the very “meaning of our democracy.”
Obama spearheaded a day-long effort by Democrats to depict Trump as unfit to be commander-in-chief, contrasting the political neophyte with his more experienced Democratic rival.
Trump, he said, was “betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”
The wealthy real estate mogul has run on a hard-right platform of banning Muslims from entering the United States and building a border wall to keep Hispanic migrants out.
Earlier in the day, he launched a pre-emptive attack against Obama, calling him “the most ignorant president in our history.”
The president fired right back.
Punching at Trump’s campaign slogan, he insisted “America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”
“Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.”
Voicing optimism about the future, Obama said “anyone who threatens our values — whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues — will always fail in the end.”
Obama said Clinton was uniquely qualified to succeed him.
He said the 68-year-old former first lady and senator knew what it’s like to be in the room when tough epoch-making and presidency-breaking decisions were taken — like the move to strike Osama bin Laden.
“I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill (Clinton), nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,” he said.
At the end of his speech, Clinton — the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party — joined him on stage to deafening shouts from the party faithful. The pair embraced and waved to the crowd.
The two were rivals in the hard-fought 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. After winning that election to become America’s first black president, Obama appointed Clinton his secretary of state and now looks to her to carry on his legacy.