PHILADELPHIA — President Barack Obama pleaded with an obviously reluctant Democrat party to get behind Hillary Clinton, delivering a stinging criticism of Donald Trump in a clear effort to make her seem more palatable, during his Wednesday night speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me,” he said, drawing on his enormous bank of capital with the roaring crowd.
Glossing over Clinton’s weaknesses, he made a case for her on the premise that Trump is a fundamentally un-American candidate, because he does not share the progressive movement’s optimism about the current state of the country and is portraying himself as the only one who can fix it.
“America is already great,” he said. “America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump. In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election – the meaning of our democracy.”
“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill,'” he said. “Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix. … He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”
“We are not a fragile or frightful people,” he added. “Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union.”
Obama went so far as to lump Trump in with “jihadists” — a term he’s famously reluctant to use. “Anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end,” he said.
He spent the majority of his speech lambasting Trump and touting his own legacy, concluding with a direct appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters who have loudly demonstrated their unhappiness with the Clinton nomination this week. It’s a difficult ask, particularly after Wikileaks published DNC emails showing Clinton worked with the party to ensure the defeat of her rival Bernie Sanders in the primary.
“f you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been,” he said. “We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.”
The crowd of delegates at the DNC, at least, seemed to take the line to heart, and roared with approval as Clinton walked out on stage following the speech in a show of unity with Obama. It’s unclear how long the good feelings and show of unity might last, however, as Wikileaks dumped a bunch of new DNC dirt on the Internet just prior to his speech — this time a trove of voicemails.
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