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Obama's enthusiastic pitch for Clinton: "This is not me going through the motions"

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a campaign event in support of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 13, 2016. 

REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTSNKWE

An energetic President Obama took the stage in Philadelphia on Tuesday with an enthusiastic pitch for Hillary Clinton.

“I am really into electing Hillary Clinton,” he declared to the crowd. Recent political history isn’t exactly teeming with examples of presidents so enthusiastic about the candidates running to succeed him -- Mr. Obama differs in that regard. “This not me going through the motions. I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton.”

He praised Clinton at length, in the same terms he’s used as the past, reiterating his assertion that “there has never been a man or a woman who has been more qualified to serve as our president,” and praising her work ethic and her judgment. 

But one of the main arguments for Clinton is the argument for Mr. Obama’s own legacy, and Clinton is the clear choice for him to see it carried on. “By so many measures, America is stronger and more prosperous than when we started out,” he told the adoring crowd.

“We fought our way back from the worst recession in 80 years,” he said, listing his administration’s accomplishments. “We turned around a declining economy...our businesses created 15 million new jobs.”

He went on to point out “we made marriage equality a reality in all 50 states. We brought more of our troops home to their families. We delivered justice to Osama bin Laden​. Through diplomacy rather than war, we shut down Iran’s nuclear program,” and he mentioned normalized relations with Cuba and the climate change deal reached in Paris. “That’s what we’ve done,” he said.

The president took some satisfaction from a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. “Across every age, every race in America, incomes rose and the poverty rate fell,” he bragged. “In fact, the typical household income of Americans rose by $2,800, which is the single biggest one-year increase on record.”  

Still, he noted that there are families who have not yet “felt progress,” and “we’ve got more work to do.” The “very meaning of America,” he said, is at stake, and voters will “determine the direction of this country for a long time.”

Donald Trump, the president said, offers a “dark, pessimistic vision,” where we turn away from the world, the president said. “This isn’t Abraham Lincoln’s Republican party,” he opined. The president accused Trump of fanning resentment and hate.

The president derided Trump’s efforts to win over working class Americans, asking the crowd, “Really, this is the guy you want to be championing working people? This guy who’s spent 70 years on this earth showing no concern for working people. This guy’s suddenly gonna be your champion?” he asked, eliciting a chorus of “no” from the crowd.  

“He’s spent most of his life trying to stay as far away from working people as he could,” Obama told the crowd, adding, “He wasn’t gonna let you on his golf course. He wasn’t gonna let you buy in his condo.”

Mr. Obama also brought up the Republican nominee’s warm attitude toward the Russian president. Trump, the president said, “just last week went on Russian state television to talk down our military and to curry favor with Vladimir Putin. He loves this guy​.” 

The Republican party “used to be opposed to Russia and authoritarianism,” he said. “And now, 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.”

“Think about the fact that this is Donald Trump’s role model,” Mr. Obama marveled. “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan idolizing somebody like that? He saw America as a shining city on a hill. 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 if he scares enough people, he might just scare up enough votes to win this election.”