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Obama: 'There has never been a man or a woman more qualified' than Clinton

USA TODAY USA TODAY 28/07/2016 Gregory Korte

PHILADELPHIA — President Obama called on Americans to elect Hillary Clinton to "finish the job" he started eight years ago.

"I’m here to tell you that yes, we still have more work to do," he told delegates at the Democratic National Convention, citing work on the economy, public safety and civil rights.

But his most important argument was on national security, where he argued that no candidate was more qualified than his former secretary of state. "Not me, not Bill, not nobody," he said. 

"I know Hillary won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed. She’ll finish the job – 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," Obama said.

Rebutting one of the GOP's strongest attacks against Clinton — the turmoil in the Middle East that erupted during her tenure managing foreign affairs for Obama, the president touted her experience and judgment. In the White House situation room, he said, she argued in favor of the mission that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden.

“You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war," Obama said.

"But Hillary’s been in the room. She’s been part of those decisions," he said of his former Secretary of State. "And no matter how daunting the odds; no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits."

Obama's enthusiastic endorsement of his former rival anchored a Wednesday night lineup that also featured Vice President Biden and his would-be successor, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. Echoing a theme throughout the convention, they all spoke of the Hillary they know personally — as opposed to the cartoon version she's portrayed as by her Republican critics.

"Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect," Obama said. “That’s the Hillary I know. That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire. And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

President Obama greets the convention-goers in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. © Michael Chow, USA TODAY President Obama greets the convention-goers in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.

"Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough," Biden said. "But I know what she's passionate about. I know Hillary."

After walking out on the Philadelphia stage to the theme from the movie Rocky,  Biden urged the crowd not to boo or cheer while he delivered an indictment of Donald Trump. He said the GOP nominee's  "cynicism is unbounded" and his commitment to the middle class was "malarkey." The crowd cheered anyway. When Biden said the billionaire Trump didn't have a clue about the middle class, the crowd chanted, "Not a clue!"

Obama's prime-time speech in Philadelphia capped a 12-year career in national politics as he attempts to pass the baton to the former first lady and senator from New York. Twelve years ago to the day, a then-unknown state senator from Illinois took to the convention stage in Boston to declare a "politics of hope," laying the groundwork for his own 2008 election to the White House.

"I was so young that first time in Boston, maybe a little nervous addressing such a big crowd," he said. "But I was filled with faith — faith in America,the generous, bighearted, hopeful country that made my story – that made all of our stories – possible."

Obama continued that hopeful tone as he returns to the Democratic National Convention podium for the fourth time.

"The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous," he said. "As I’ve traveled this country, through all fifty states; as I’ve rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I’ve also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America. I see people working hard and starting businesses; people teaching kids and serving our country. I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, unconstrained by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be.”

But Obama also acknowledged that Americans have "real anxieties" about jobs and security. "We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice," he said in an advance copy of the speech. "There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten."

Obama detailed Clinton's resume for the job of commander in chief, a direct rebuttal to one Trump's most incisive attacks at last week's Republican convention in Cleveland. Trump said Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State was marked by "death, destruction and weakness."

Obama also took a few swipes at Trump. "He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated."

When the crowd booed, he repeated a line that's become a staple of his stump speeches. "Don't boo. Vote," he said.

Instead, most of Obama's focus was on his fellow Democrat. 

"She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working family, the senior citizen, the small business owner, the soldier, and the veteran," he said.

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