President Barack Obama delivered a passionate endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a speech at the party’s convention Wednesday night.
His speech was built on a message of optimism, which has been the overriding tone of the Democratic National Convention this week.
“I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen,” he said. “So this year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me — to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us, to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.”
And Obama didn’t simply make the case against the Republican nominee Donald Trump. He argued strongly in favor of Clinton, a former political rival whom he defeated for the presidential nomination in 2008.
“Eight years ago, you may remember Hillary and I were rivals for the Democratic nomination,” Obama said. “We battled for a year and a half. Let me tell you: It was tough, because Hillary was tough. I was worn out. She was doing everything I was doing, but, just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards and in heels. Every time I thought I might have that race won, Hillary just came back stronger.”
Obama and Clinton competed in a fierce primary battle in 2008. Clinton, the establishment candidate, was widely expected to win the Democratic nomination. But Obama rose to the top of the party on his message of hope and change.
Obama and Clinton were thought to dislike each other — as evidenced by the moment during a debate when Obama said snidely, “You’re likable enough, Hillary” — but their relationship has warmed since Obama tapped Clinton to be his first secretary of state.
“After it was all over, I asked Hillary to join my team,” Obama said. “She was a little surprised, and her team was a little surprised, but ultimately she said yes — because she knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us.”
Obama testified to her experience and judgment, two things that have been popular avenues for attack against her.
“For four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment, and her discipline,” he said. “I came to realize that her unbelievable work ethic wasn’t for praise or attention — that she was in this for everyone who needs a champion.”
He then ran through some of her accomplishments, including her work at the Children’s Defense Fund, on behalf of 9/11 first responders, and on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.