'Don’t boo him; vote,' the president urges supporters

By Gerrad Hall
Updated July 28, 2016 at 03:53 PM EDT
Earl Gibson III/WireImage

President Barack Obama offered an impassioned endorsement of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night while denouncing Donald Trump, telling Americans, “Don’t boo him; vote.”

Obama also urged Americans to “get in the arena” with Clinton, referencing a quote from former President Teddy Roosevelt, and to “carry her the same way you carried me.”

“She’s been there for us, even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue,” the president said in his 44-minute speech. “You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about ‘yes he will.’ It’s about ‘yes we can!’”

President Obama praised Clinton, whom he beat in 2008 to clinch the the Democratic nomination. “It was tough, because Hillary was tough. I was worn out,” he said of the campaign that eventually put him in the White House; Clinton became his Secretary of State. “She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards in heels.”

He also referenced Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. president and potential First Gentleman, saying, “There has never been a man or a woman – not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America.”

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Obama stressed that Clinton has specific ideas and “real plans to address concerns,” unlike her Republican opponent. “And then, there’s Donald Trump,” he said, earning boos from the packed convention center. “Don’t boo him; vote.”

Referencing the GOP convention last week in Cleveland, Obama pointed out the difference in tone between the two parties.

“What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world,” he said, arguing Trump runs a campaign based in fear, promising he’s the only one who can fix America. “We’re not a fragile people. We’re not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.”

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Assuring he has seen firsthand Clinton’s “intelligence, judgment, and her discipline,” Obama also borrowed Clinton’s campaign slogan. “I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, young, old, gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag to this great, bold country that we love. That’s what I see. That’s the America I know,” he said. “And there is only one candidate in this race who believes in that future, has devoted her life to that future; a mother and a grandmother who would do anything to help our children thrive; a leader with real plans to break down barriers and blast through glass ceilings and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American.”

Clinton joined Obama on stage at the end of his speech, but not before he thanked the American people for “this incredible journey” of the past 8 years.

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“Time and again you’ve picked me up, and I hope sometimes I’ve picked you up too. And tonight I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me, because you’re who I was talking about 12 years ago when I talked about hope,” he said, harking back to his own campaign. “Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope.”

Obama’s DNC speech followed remarks earlier Wednesday by Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton’s running mate, Virgina Sen. Tim Kaine. First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton spoke earlier in the convention.

The Democratic gathering continues Thursday, with Hillary Clinton scheduled as the keynote speaker.

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