Obama Urges His Backers To
Help Clinton, Ignore ‘Nonsense’
By HIRSHFIELD DAVIS
The New York Times
PHILADELPHIA--President Barack Obama vigorously defended Hillary Clinton on Tuesday as a relentless leader who had been held to unfair standards during an uncommonly wild presidential campaign, pleading with the voters who were the core of his own support to tune out the “reality show” noise of the race and vote for his chosen successor.
“We cannot afford, suddenly, to treat this like a reality show--we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here,” Mr. Obama told thousands of people at an afternoon rally in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“What sets Hillary apart is that through it all, she just keeps on going, and she doesn’t stop caring, and she doesn’t stop trying, and she never stops fighting for us--even if we haven’t always appreciated it,” Mr. Obama said.
The roughly 40-minute speech was by turns a condemnation of Donald J. Trump and a venting session about news coverage of a presidential race that Mr. Obama argued had focused on the “frivolous” while allowing Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, to go unchallenged. Its intended audience was the young and minority voters who had propelled Mr. Obama to the White House.
“I love you, too--but we got some business to do here,” Mr. Obama told the crowd as it chanted his name. “I am really into electing Hillary Clinton--like, this isn’t me going through the motions here. I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton.”
Eight years ago, Mr. Obama defeated Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination in large part by appealing to young people and minorities who had never participated in presidential elections but were inspired by his hopeful message and newness to politics. Now he is trying to energize those voters on behalf of a candidate whose decades-long political and policy résumé is her chief selling point, and who struggled to draw their support during a bruising primary campaign as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont linked her to what he characterized as the corrupt status quo.
“We always like the new, shiny thing--I benefited from that when I was a candidate--and we take for granted sometimes what is steady and true, and Hillary Clinton is steady, and she is true,” Mr. Obama said. “The young people who are here, who all you’ve been seeing is just the nonsense that’s been on TV, you maybe don’t remember all the work that she has had to do, and all the things that she has had to overcome.”
“You can’t stay home because, ‘You know, she’s been around for a long time,’” Mr. Obama said. “I need you to work as hard for Hillary as you did for me.”
The president’s appearance came as Mrs. Clinton was sidelined from the campaign to recuperate from pneumonia. Her team was toiling to shake off questions about the initial decision to keep her diagnosis secret amid questions about her health.
Mr. Obama referred obliquely to the controversy, asking the crowd gathered on a tree-lined boulevard to permit him to “just vent for a second” about the questions dominating the presidential campaign.
“You know, you don’t grade the presidency on a curve--this is serious business,” Mr. Obama said. “You want to debate transparency? You’ve got one candidate in this race who’s released decades’ worth of her tax returns; the other candidate is the first in decades who’s refused to release any at all.”
An aide to Mrs. Clinton said she had watched the speech on television from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., where she spent the day reading briefings and making calls. She planned to take another day off before returning to the campaign trail Thursday.
Mr. Obama’s speech was the latest turn in the evolution of his relationship with Mrs. Clinton. Their once-bitter rivalry transformed into a partnership when he selected her as secretary of state, and they now have a vital political alliance with consequences for both of them.
Mr. Obama seemed exhilarated to be back on the campaign trail, and he has told his advisers that he is eager to be useful to Mrs. Clinton. Aides say he will spend the final days of the race traveling extensively on her behalf. Michelle Obama, a rare and reluctant presence at political events, also plans to become involved this week, appearing at a Friday rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to exhort people to register before that state’s Oct. 17 deadline.
On Tuesday in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama drew a sharp contrast between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, condemning the tenor of his campaign and denouncing him for his recent praise of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“Their nominee is out there praising a guy, saying he’s a strong leader because he invades smaller countries, jails his opponents, controls the press and drives his economy into a long recession,” Mr. Obama said. “Think about the fact that that is Donald Trump’s role model.”
In an apparent appeal to Republicans alienated by Mr. Trump’s candidacy, he marveled at how far the party had strayed from the principles espoused by Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan.
“He saw America as a shining city on a hill,” Mr. Obama said, referring to Reagan. “Donald Trump calls it a divided crime scene. He’s not offering any real policies or plans, just offering division and offering fear. And he’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might just scare up enough votes to win this election.”
The president also reminded voters of his accomplishments over eight years, including job and wage growth and a health care measure that provided insurance for 20 million people. “Thanks, Obama,” he said, adopting a phrase his critics have used sarcastically.
Mr. Obama argued that Mrs. Clinton was the only candidate who could build on those successes, and he ridiculed the notion that Mr. Trump would appeal to working-class voters.
“Really?” Mr. Obama said with a smile. “This guy who spent 70 years on the earth showing no concern for working people?”
Mr. Obama also spent time Tuesday raising money to elect Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats, attending a fund-raiser at a downtown Philadelphia hotel for the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint operation with the Democratic National Committee and state parties, and one at a private home in New York City for the party’s House campaign arm.
PresidentBarack Obama, in Philadelphia on Tuesday, called Hillary Clinton “steady and true” and said the race was not a “reality show.”
The president encourages his coalition of supporters to turn out to support Hillary Clinton on election day.
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