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Obama praises Clinton in convention speech full of hope and optimism

Obama DNC speech

PHILADELPHIA -- President Obama, in his final address as president to the Democratic National Convention passionately argued that America is already both great and strong, and that it's on a track that should continue -- a stark contrast with the dark picture painted by Donald Trump last week at the Republican convention. As important was his presentation of Hillary Clinton as the president who would keep America moving in the same direction.

"While this nation has been tested by war and recession and all manner of challenges, I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before," the president said late Wednesday night, after a star-studded program of politicians and celebrities.

Mr. Obama reminded Americans of what had been achieved in his two terms -- the economic recovery, health care reform, climate change initiatives, a nuclear arms drawdown with Iran, marriage equality. All these he offered as proof that "our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started."

But, he reminded the Democratic delegates and guests, "we've still got more work to do."

Clinton and Trump campaigns clash during DNC

But in order to continue that work, the president said, Americans have to make the right choice first this November, in what he drily noted was "not your typical election."

These two candidates -- Clinton and Trump -- are in a battle for "who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government," Obama said.

Trump, the president said, offered "no serious solutions to pressing problems - just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate."

Clinton, he said, is a progressive committed to the common American, with legislative experience and foreign policy chops, and who, when it comes to national security, can say that she sat with the president "in the Situation Room and forcefully argued in favor of the mission that took out bin Laden."

"That's why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman -- not me, not Bill [Clinton], not anybody -- more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America," Mr. Obama said.

He addressed Bill Clinton, who looked on from his seat: "I hope you don't mind, Bill. I was just telling the truth," the president said.

The president then tore into Trump, whose name he first invoked half-way through his speech and then mentioned rarely later.

Mr. Obama criticized Trump as "not really a plans guy" -- and "not really a facts guy either." He slammed Trump's record in business, which he said left "a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated."

Drawing a sharp contrast between Clinton and Trump on national security, the president said he was confident that "Hillary won't relent until ISIL is destroyed."

"She'll finish the job," he said. "And she'll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country. She is fit to be the next commander-in-chief."

In comparison, the president recalled that "Donald Trump calls our military a disaster" and that the New York billionaire has said he would consider honoring NATO commitments.

"Well, America's promises do not come with a price tag," Mr. Obama said, rebutting Trump's claim that he would only defend NATO countries if they started paying their fair share. "We meet our commitments. We bear our burdens. And that's one reason why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago."

The Wednesday night speech, with its focus on unity, follows two convention nights marred with protests from a faction of voters still loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Some Sanders followers, after walking out of the convention's roll call nominating vote, even burned American flags Tuesday outside of the Wells Fargo Center.

The president responded with a call for collaboration -- work that "we" must do, rather than the GOP nominee's emphasis on how "I alone" can save America.

"That's what Hillary Clinton understands," he said. And the president implicitly urged the remaining Bernie Sanders supporters in the room to get #WithHer.

"If 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 during this election," 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."

Responding to the energetic crowd, where some activists continued to chant in favor of Sanders, the president told them, "That's right - feel the Bern!"

Like his wife earlier this week. Obama inherently suggested that Trump has it all wrong.

Michelle Obama unites a divided Democratic convention

"America is already great. America is already strong," he said. "And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump."

And he thanked the party for "this incredible journey" and concluded with a promise that at the end of the convention week, Democrats would be "in good hands."

"My time in this office -- it hasn't fixed everything," Mr. Obama admitted. "As much as we've done, there's still so much I want to do. But for all the tough lessons I've had to learn; for all the places I've fallen short; I've told Hillary, and I'll tell you what's picked me back up, every single time: It's been you. The American people."