President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are trying to reignite Democratic party enthusiasm by reminding voters of Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 elections.
Appearing together Tuesday at their first official joint appearance since Obama endorsed her last month, the president waxed nostalgia on his campaigns for president before noting his support for Clinton.
“I know I’ve gone on too long. This is what happens — you haven’t campaigned in a while, you start enjoying it too much,” Obama said.
He added several minutes later: “I’ve run my last campaign, and I couldn’t be prouder of the things we’ve done together. But I’m ready to pass the baton. And I know that Hillary Clinton is ready to run this race.”
Throughout both their speeches, Clinton and Obama attempted to use their disagreements following the 2008 Democratic primary as an example of how Democrats can come together following a tough primary between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has refused to officially suspend his campaign.
Borrowing Obama’s campaign slogan, Clinton reminded the audience that while she lost to Obama in 2008, she quickly came to support him.
“He knows a little thing about winning elections. Take it from me,” Clinton said introducing Obama.
She added: “When it was over, I was proud to endorse him and campaign for him.”
Calling Clinton the “most qualified person” to ever seek the presidency, Obama joked that she beat him in the presidential primary debates.
“She beat me the first half, and then I could just barely play her to a draw,” Obama said. “She knew every fact, and she knew every detail.”
Obama attempted to play down the divisions between Democratic primary supporters of Clinton and Sanders, arguing that the differences with Republicans were far greater.
“Primaries are always tough because you’re arguing with your friends instead of the folks you disagree with,” Obama said.
Both Clinton and Obama took swipes and presumptive Republican presidential Donald Trump. Clinton asked audience members to “imagine him sitting in the Oval Office” during a crisis, while Obama said that Trump’s background as a reality-television star didn’t make him qualified to be president.
“This isn’t a reality show. This is not reality. And being president of the United States means you have to deal with reality. When a crisis hits, you can’t just walk off the set. You can’t fire the scriptwriter. You can’t be reckless. You don’t have the luxury of just saying what’s in your head. You’ve gotta actually do your homework,” Obama said.
The appearance in North Carolina was far from accidental. The Tar Heel State is a key battleground that helped propel Obama to victory in 2008, but went for former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
Reprising a favourite campaign line from 2012, Obama quickly pivoted from a rhetorical jab at Trump to a call to action.
“I was waiting for this opportunity. Don’t boo. Vote,” Obama said.
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