President Barack Obama teamed up with Hillary Clinton for the first time during the 2016 presidential campaign, making the case for Democratic presidential nominee to succeed him in the White House while castigating her Republican rival Donald Trump.
“I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton,” President Obama said to the raucous crowd of supporters gathered in the Charlotte Convention Center Tuesday afternoon. “Let me tell you, North Carolina, my faith in Hillary has always been rewarded. I have had a front row seat to her judgement and her toughness and commitment to diplomacy.”
Obama added, “I am ready to pass the baton. And I know that she is going to take it.”
The pair had originally planned to appear together last month in Wisconsin, but the June event was canceled in the aftermath of the Orlando night club shooting.
Traveling to Charlotte, NC together on Air Force One, neither Hillary nor Obama mentioned once the earlier news of FBI’s bombshell announcement that it will not recommend charges for her use of using a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. However, during his announcement, FBI director James Comey unleashed explicit criticism of Hillary’s mishandling of classified information in being “extremely careless.”
“From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received,” Comey said. “As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
Comey added, “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
The timing of the joint appearance rally just hours after the FBI announcement is a reminder that Obama’s appointees are declining to pursue criminal charges, giving Hillary a possible new dilemma for the next four months. The White House declined to comment on the FBI’s finding, stating the investigation is not formally closed. For months, Obama faced accusations into the dealings, even though at times he has tried to keep distance from the controversy.
As the rally began, Trump released a lengthy statement of the FBI announcement, calling the decision an example of a political system that is rigged.
“It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time,” the statement reads. “Folks — the system is rigged.”
During Hillary read from a teleprompter, giving her typical campaign stump speech, Obama, on the other hand, rallied up the crowd with his vibrant dialog that helped him eight years ago defeat his former primary rival by being all “fired up” and “ready to go” in hitting the campaign trail with his former Secretary of State.
“I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton. And I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America,” Obama said. “The bottom line is she was a great secretary of state… So the bottom line is I know Hillary can do the job, and that’s why I am so proud, North Carolina, to endorse Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.”
With both Hillary and Obama stumping in the Tar Heel State as well as Trump scheduled to hold a campaign rally on the other side of the state in Raleigh, North Carolina is shaping to become a major battleground state in this election with both sides strategizing ways towards winning the state in November. In 2008, Obama won North Carolina with a small margin of just 0.32%. In 2012, Obama lost narrowly to Mitt Romney by a margin of 2.04%.
Never mentioning Trump by name, Obama repeatedly went after the GOP nominee, calling him unfit to become president of the United States. “This is not a reality show, this is reality,” Obama said. “When a crisis hits, you can’t just walk off the set. You can’t fire the scriptwriter. You can’t be reckless. You’ve actually got to know what you’re talking about. You can’t just kick out reporters.”
During his 40 minute remark after Hillary spoke, Obama would continue his assault on Trump, from criticizing Republicans for not supporting the GOP nominee, mocking his usage of being on Twitter as his mode of political communication, and his bully personality.
“Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk,” Obama said. “So, you can’t fully understand what it means to make life-and-death decisions until you’ve done it. That’s the truth. But I can tell you this — Hillary Clinton has been tested.”
On immigration, an issue that has helped Trump during the primary season with his plan in building a wall along the Mexico borders, Obama slammed both Trump and Republicans for their plans of immigration reform. “Republicans talk a good game about immigration reform and they they don’t do anything,” Obama said. “Then they go pick a nominee who’s only plan is to build a higher wall.”
Hillary would also go after Trump while delivering her remarks, invoking her rival within two minutes of her speech. “[Obama’s] never forgetting where he came from,” Hillary said. “And Donald, if you are out there tweeting, it’s Hawaii!”
“[Trump] is unqualified and temperamentally unfit to be our president and commander in chief,” Hillary added as the crowd cheered loudly. “Donald Trump can accuse me of playing the woman card all he wants, but if fighting for equal pay and affordable childcare and paid family leave is playing the woman card, then deal me in!”
Neither Obama nor Hillary never made a direct appeal to Sanders supporters during their remarks, but touted how both were former rivals during a bitter 2008 primary and unified after it was all said and done. “Some of you might remember that [Obama] and I competed against each other as hard as we could back in 2008,” Hillary stated. “But when it was over, I was proud to endorse him and campaign for him.”
“At the end of our contest, I saw the grace and the energy with which she threw herself into my campaign,” Obama said. “Not because she wasn’t disappointed about the outcome of the primary, but because she knew there was something that was at stake that was bigger than either of us. And that was the direction of our country and how are we going to make sure that all the people who are counting on us could see a better life.”