President Obama stepped onto the campaign trail for the first time with Hillary Clinton today in a state that Mitt Romney won in 2012 and where Clinton now holds a slight polling average over Donald Trump.
Obama and Clinton took Air Force One together to Charlotte, N.C., for the rally. Obama used the official plane frequently during his re-election campaign, mileage that the campaign was required to reimburse to the government.
Obama pretended to wipe sweat from his brow as Clinton mentioned their
“hard-fought” primary in 2008.
As the president relaxed on a stool, Clinton lauded Obama as someone who has stood with her “in the good times and the hard times.”
Then, in a needle at birtherism: “Donald, if you’re out there tweeting, it’s ‘Hawaii’.”
Clinton described their journey from “political rivals to partners to friends,” declaring of the president, “That is what leadership looks like.”
Promising to make the “biggest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II,” Hillary stressed, “We’re going to build on the vision for America that President Obama has always championed…. not as red states and blue states but as the United States.”
There were also several digs at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his lack of an endorsement so far without naming the Democratic nomination contender by name.
“When it was over I was proud to endorse him and campaign for him,” Clinton said of her endorsement of Obama in 2008.
When he named her secretary of State, “I don’t think anybody saw that coming, especially me,” she said.
Accusing her presumed general election opponent of divisiveness, Clinton emphasized that “this election is our chance to say our country is better than this.”
Obama noted that “primaries are also tough because you’re arguing with friends instead of the folks you disagree with.”
“I came away from that primary admiring her,” he said. “I had a chance to see up close just how smart she was how prepared she was… I always had to be on my game because she knew every fact, she knew every detail.”
Hillary, he added, “didn’t give up, she didn’t pout, she just kept on going, she had to do everything I had to do but she was like Ginger Rogers — she had to do it backwards in heels.”
Neither mentioned Clinton’s email server or the announcement from FBI Director James Comey today that it’s not recommending Clinton be charged with any crime for sending and receiving classified information on an unsecured server.
“The bottom line is she was a great secretary of State,” Obama praised her.
In his dig at Trump without mentioning him by name, the president spoke of the challenges of his job. “Everybody can tweet but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk,” Obama said.
“Hillary Clinton has been tested. She has seen up close what’s invovled in making those decisions. She has participated in the meetings where those decisions were made … there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton, ever, and that’s the truth.”
Obama argued that America is already great and one can’t “cling to some imaginary past” in a progressive nation.
“If you’re voting for the other team, it’s not because of the economy. Even the Republicans on the other side don’t really know what the guy’s talking about,” he added. “You ask them, they’re like, ‘I don’t know.'”
Obama continued that other countries in the world didn’t think America was so great before “but now they think we’re the greatest … we were in a hole before I came into office, but now the rest of the world thinks we’re pretty darn great.”
The president said that was supported by polling data and “that’s not something I just made up and tweet.”