“I’m asking you to join me – to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.”—President Barack Obama (View video ; read full text.)
Other speakers included victims of gun violence, a retired admiral and ex-CIA director
By Miriam Raftery
July 28, 2016 (Philadelphia) – President Barack Obama delivered a rousing speech to cap off day three of the Democratic National Convention, citing accomplishments of his administration, praising Hillary Clinton as the most qualified candidate for the presidency, and criticizing Republican nominee Donald Trump as unqualified, lacking plans to solve America’s problems, and a dangerous demagogue who would jeopardize international relations and national security.
The President took issue with the Republican National Convention speakers “deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other,and turn away from the rest of the world." He added, "There were no serious solutions to pressing problems—just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate."
noted that after taking office amid the worst recession in 80 years, under his leadership the nation’s deficit has been reduced, unemployment is the lowest in 8 years, 15 million new jobs have been created, clean energy production has doubled, millions of Americans now have healthcare, many of our troops have come home, Obama bin Ladin was taken out, homelessness among veterans has been cut in half, and the U.S. along with 200 nations signed a climate agreement aimed at helping save the planet. He noted that the nation’s crime rate is the lowest in decades and illegal immigration has also dropped sharply.
But he observed, ”There is more work to do.” He cited the need to provide help for “every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone” as well as making streets safer and the criminal justice system more fair, our homeland more secure and “our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.”
He praised America as a nation of courage, optimism and ingenuity, repeating the Clinton campaign’s theme that we are “stronger together.”
He praised Clinton for having an “unbelievable work ethic” adding that she is “in this for everyone who needs a champion.” He recalled her work to help kids with disabilities as a young worker with the Children’s Defense Fund and later, showing “heart” as First Lady when she worked with Congress to help push through a Chlidren’s Health Insurance Program. He recalled her efforts as New York’s Senator fighting to get funding to help first responders after the 9/11 attacks,as well as her determination as Secretary of State when she argued for the mission that took out bin Laden.
“Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits…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.”
He indicated that while Clinton has specific plans such as ways to invest in new jobs and put kids through college without saddling them with huge debts, Trump is “not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either.” He also noted that he’s known many business people who attained success “without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated,” a clear reference to Trump.
He called Clinton the clear choice to “keep you and your family safe in a dangerous world” noting she has worked with intelligence teams, diplomats and the military as troops “pounded ISIL without mercy, taking out leaders,taking back territory. I know Hillary won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed…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.”
Trump by contrast has called our military a “disaster” , “cozies up to Putin (Russia’s dictator), praises Saddam Hussein and tells the NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.”
He said Clinton understands the need to listen to others and fight for common ground. He cited the need to work through racial divides while also honoring police and treating all communities fairly, also working toward a lawful and orderly immigration system instead of demonizing immigrants seeking the American dream.
He also praised backers of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, stating, “If you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been.” He urged voters to support candidates for all public offices who will put “more justice in the justice system.”
He admitted to making mistakes, and said all leaders including Clinton have done so too. “That’s what happens when we try.” But he concluded that Clinton “has been there for us…and if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue.”
He praised the strength of America for our nation’s inclusivity of people of “every party, every race, and every faith,” and suggested that Trump threatens our very democratic process., adding, “Anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”
The President concluded, “I’m asking you to join me—to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us—to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.”
Earlier in day three of the convention, victims of gun violence including school and church shootings, as well as former Congressional member Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, addressed the crowd. One speaker noted that Clinton lobbied to close a loophole that allowed a convicted criminal to buy a gun used in a Charleston massacre. Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, told the crowd, “Speaking is difficult for me, but come January I want to say these two words: Madame President!”
California Governor Jerry Brown called climate change “the existential threat of our time,”noting, “Trump says global warming is a hoax. I say Donald Trump is a fraud.”
Vice President Joe Biden praised Obama’s legacy and echoed the President’s resolve that Americans “do not scare easily. We never bow, we never bend, we never break…we always move forward.”
The convention was not without controversy. In earlier days, some Sanders delegates booed Clinton and even Sanders himself when he endorsed his former rival. Numerous Sanders delegates walked out after Clinton won the roll call, dismayed not only by Sanders not receiving the most delegates, but also by revelations in emails published by Wikileaks that proved the Democratic National Convention actively worked to undermine the Sanders candidacy. Those revelations led to the resignation ofDebbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair. The Clinton campaign promptly hired on Wasserman-Schultz, leaving Sanders’ supporters angered at what they viewed as Clinton rewarding actions that violated the DNC rules requiring neutrality.
But on Wednesday, strong voices called for unity to defeat Trump.
Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who has served under nine administrations, called Clinton the “most experience person to have every run for president” of the U.S. Brushing off protesters who chanted “no more war,” Panetta faulted Trump for suggesting the Russians hack U.S. intelligence efforts “in order to affect an election.” (Trump has claimed he was joking.) But Panetta stated, “We cannot afford an erratic finger on our nuclear weapons.”
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson ,a former Judge Advocate General, slammed Trump for suggesting Russia hack Clinton emails. “That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent,”he stated. “Donald Trump calls himself the law and order candidate. But he will violate international law. In his words, he endorses `torture at a minimum.’ He’ll order our troops to commit war crimes by killing of civilians,”noting Trump has called for killing families of terrorists. “Donald Trump would abandon our allies and let more countries get nuclear weapons.”
He noted pointedly, “More than 120 Republican national security leaders recently warned that Donald Trump would in their words `make America less safe.”