President Barack Obama cast a stark electoral choice for American voters today during a campaign stop in Philadelphia for Hillary Clinton.
“This is a fundamental choice about who we are as a people,” he said. “This is a choice about the meaning of America.”
The outdoor rally, which started at about 1:15 p.m., was held at Eakins Oval, just in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and was open to the public.
Obama’s speech — presented on a light blue, arrow-shaped stage built to resemble Clinton’s campaign logo — was largely focused on doling praise on the Democratic nominee. “I don’t think there has ever been a man or woman more qualified than Hillary to be president,” he said, mentioning her experience as first lady, New York senator and U.S. Secretary of State.
“And then there’s the other guy: Donald Trump,” he said, provoking boos from the crowd. “Don’t boo,” he said. “Let’s talk about Donald Trump.”
The President had a lot to say about Trump, commenting negatively on the Republican nominee’s alleged admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as what he characterized as divisive language Trump has used to rile up supporters.
“Anger and hate ... that is not the America we know,” he said. “That is not the America I know.”
Obama then challenged statements by Trump that his presidency would champion the interests of the working class. “He’s spent most of his life trying to keep as far away from working people as possible,” he said.
He also defended what he believes to be the successes of the Democratic Party’s leadership over the past eight years, competing with the bleak vision of our nation’s trajectory, which has so often been the focal point of Trump’s rhetoric.
He claimed victories on marriage equality and in repairing the U.S. economy, as well as in the nuclear deal with Iran.
“And gas is $2 a gallon,” said the President. “Thanks Obama!” he added, self-referencing his own meme, which is typically used sarcastically on the Internet.
Not everyone in attendance was happy, however. Outside of the rally, a group of roughly 100 activists had gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, construction of which has desecrated sacred burial sites and threatens to contaminate water supplies according to the the Sioux people of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Chants of “Water is a right!” could be heard distantly during Obama’s speech, accompanied by drums.
Obama was not distracted, however, from his goal of building support for Clinton, frequently referring to her experience in the White House.
“Nobody fully understands the demands of my job, the demands of the president, until you sit behind that desk,” he said. “[And] the closest you can be is where Hillary’s been.”
Although Clinton was the main topic of the event, passion for Obama was electric throughout the crowd. “We love you!” yelled a few fans. “I love you too!” he would reply, without missing a beat. “But you gotta love democracy too. You gotta vote!”
Towards the end of his speech, the President made use of the campaign slogan he had used to win the Democratic nomination over Clinton in 2008, now as a means to support her bid over Trump. “America is not about ‘yes, he will,’” said Obama. “It’s about ‘yes, we can!’”
“Yes we can! Yes we can!” the crowd roared in response.
, after the rally, Obama attended a closed fundraiser for Clinton’s campaign, to later fly to New York to fundraise for congressional Democrats.
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