Hillary Clinton Surprises at DNC After President Obama "Passes the Baton"
Obama, who says he's "more optimistic about the future of America than ever," delivered a rapturous endorsement for Clinton — "She is ready and she is fit" — and took jabs at "The Donald" during his keynote address on day three of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. At the end of his speech, Clinton joined him on stage.
President Barack Obama brought a close to the third night of the four-day Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday with a passionate endorsement and passing of the baton to Hillary Clinton, who surprised the audience by joining him onstage after his speech.
Walking out to U2's "City of Blinding Lights," President Obama thanked the erupting crowd for their standing ovation as they chanted, "Yes we can!" He began his speech by saying, "Twelve years ago tonight, I addressed this convention for the very first time ... I was so young and I'll admit it, maybe I was a little nervous addressing such a big crowd, but I was filled with faith. Faith in America."
Speaking of his daughters and wife Michelle, who "has made me a better father and better man" and "who hasn't aged a day," Obama then turned talk to today. "I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before," he said.
Speaking about victories and setbacks from his presidency, from capturing Osama bin Laden to saying "love has no limits" to the cheering crowd, Obama then said, "We still have more work to do."
Focusing on November, he said: "It's fair to say: This is not your typical election."
"The America I know is full of optimism and courage," Obama said when discussing the hate he witnessed during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last weekend. Still, he told the crowd not to boo at the mention of the GOP nominee's name.
Recalling when he and Clinton were political rivals, he explained that going up against her "wore him out." He added, "She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backwards and in heels."
Praising her "unbelievable work ethic" and tenacity, Obama said he realized that "she was in this for everyone who needs a champion." Admitting that nothing can truly prepare someone for the demands of the Oval Office, he stressed how Clinton has already been in the room.
"She's been part of those decisions," he said. "No matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. That is 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 woman — not me, not Bill [Clinton], nobody — better than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America."
Turning talk to Donald Trump, Obama said, "The Donald is not really a 'plans' guy. He's not really a facts guy, either.
"Does anyone really believe that a guy who spent his 70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion?"
Saying that people outside of the United States "don't understand what's going on in this election," the room again erupted when Obama said Clinton "is fit and she is ready to be the next Commander in Chief."
Continuing about Trump, he said, "America is already great, America is already strong. He’s not offering any real solutions to those problems, he’s just offering slogans and he’s offering fear ... And I promise you, our greatness does not depend on Donald Trump.
"The American Dream is something that no wall will ever contain."
Admitting that Clinton has been criticized by both sides and has made mistakes — "we all do" — Obama said she is "that woman in the arena."
"Democracy isn't a spectator sport," he said. "America isn't about 'yes he will,' it's about 'yes we can!'"
Wrapping up his speech, the president returned to saying why he leaves the stage with confidence: "The Democratic party is in good hands.
"For all the places where I’ve fallen short," he said, "I’ve told Hillary and I'll tell you what picks me back up every single time, it’s been you — the American people."
About the audacity of hope, Obama said to America: "I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.
"Now that I'm ready to pass the baton," he said to "reject fear" and "elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States and show the world that we still believe in the promise of this great nation.
"Thank you for this incredible journey — let's keep it going."
After thunderous applause, Clinton then surprised the DNC crowd by joining Obama onstage.
Following the night's other headliners, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton's VP pick, Tim Kaine, Obama continued to implore voters to elect Clinton to the White House in November.
The highly anticipated moment marked the passing of the Democratic party baton from a barrier-breaking president to an historic candidate.
Obama was introduced by Sharon Belkofer, the mother of U.S. soldier Tom Belkofer, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. "I wish every American could hug President Obama," she said before a video introducing the president played. The video chronicled the deep tragedy and momentous accomplishments of Obama's presidency, with many moments garnering loud cheers from the crowd.
Wednesday also saw speeches from Angela Bassett, Empire's Lee Daniels and a performance from Lenny Kravitz. Sigourney Weaver introduced a climate change film directed by James Cameron that took aim at Donald Trump, and Christine Leinonen, the mother of one of the Orlando victims, brought the room to tears.
The DNC has had no shortage of A-list support amid its star-studded lineup in Philadelphia. On Tuesday night, Kesha performed at a gun-control concert, and on Wednesday night, Fergie headlined a concert for the Creative Coalition and The Black Eyed Peas headlined the Rock the Vote concert at the Fillmore.
Susan Sarandon, Shailene Woodley, Rosario Dawson and Shonda Rhimes all have been spotted at the DNC, in addition to the impressive roster of celebrity speakers. On Tuesday night, Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham and America Ferrera and Tony Goldwyn spoke, while Elizabeth Banks hosted and former President Bill Clinton headlined.