US President Barack Obama has thrown his weight behind Hillary Clinton, likening the presidential race between the former secretary of state and real estate tycoon Donald Trump to a choice between “future and imaginary past”.
Shirt sleeves rolled up in campaign form, Obama declared, “I’m ready to pass the baton.”
Welcomed by a screaming crowd of supporters, the president led chants of “Hillary!” as they stood onstage under banners reading “Stronger Together.” He declared that “there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton, ever. And that’s the truth. That’s the truth.”
Referring back to their own bruising primary battle in 2008, Obama said, “We may have gone toe to toe, from coast to coast, but we stood shoulder to shoulder for the ideals that we share.” The energetic Obama-Clinton appearance in North Carolina was a show of Democratic unity in a state Clinton is hoping to put back in the party’s column.
“This is a choice between whether we are going to cling to some imaginary past or whether we’re going to reach for the future,” Obama said on Tuesday. “This November, in this election, you are going to have a very clear choice to make; between two fundamentally different visions of where America should go.”
In his address, Obama made no mention of the FBI decision not to recommend charge-sheet against Clinton.
Clinton’s Republican rival, however, didn’t let the Democratic duo’s outing go unanswered. As the rally began, Donald Trump released a lengthy statement casting the joint appearance as an example of a “rigged” political system.
“It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time,” Trump said, later echoing the charges at a rowdy rally held across the state in Raleigh.
Clinton shot back early as she introduced the president, chiding Trump for once leading the questioning of the president’s birthplace.
“I was honoured to stand with in the good times and the bad times, someone who has never forgotten where he came from. And, Donald, if you’re out there tweeting, it’s Hawaii,” she said.
Obama, too, got in a dig at Trump.
“Anybody can tweet but nobody actually knows what it takes” to be president, he said.
In 2008, Obama created history by becoming the first non-White man to be elected the president of the US. If elected, Clinton would be the first woman in the White House.
“Hillary is not somebody who fears the future. She believes that it is ours to shape, the same way it’s always been. Hillary understands that we make our own destiny as long as we’re together, as long as we think of ourselves not as just a collection of individuals or a collection of interest groups or a collection of states, but as a United States of America,” Obama said.
Without naming Trump, Obama lashed out at the Republican presidential nominee. “A bunch of phony bluster doesn’t keep us safe. And she understands that we can’t retreat from a world that needs American leadership,” he said.
“That’s why she offers a smarter approach that uses every element of American power to protect our people and to protect our allies. She is and will be a stateswoman who makes us proud around the world,” Obama added.
The Clinton campaign hopes Obama can reassure voters about her experience, talent and character, and speak to their questions about her honesty and trustworthiness, some of which stem from the email investigation.
Obama and Clinton originally planned to make their first campaign appearance together in Wisconsin, a Democratic-leaning state where Clinton struggled in her primary fight with Bernie Sanders. Campaign aides viewed that as a way to forge Democratic unity after the primary and consolidate the party’s voters in a state Clinton needs to carry in November.
The June 15 rally was postponed due to the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. By the time the campaign and White House got around to rescheduling, Clinton aides said the landscape had shifted â€? they are now far less worried about bringing along Sanders voters and more interested in using the president to rally voters in one of the most divided general election battlegrounds.