Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama gave his final convention speech as commander-in-chief at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He had a tough job — to convince the public to back Hillary Clinton during an election year riddled with hate, division and madness.
Reminding the public of the hope they had when they voted for him eight years ago, President Obama reflected on the positive changes he’s made for the country since he entered office.
“After the worst recession in 80 years, we’ve fought our way back,” he said. “We’ve seen deficits come down, 401(k)s recover, an auto industry set new records, unemployment reach eight-year lows, and our businesses create 15 million new jobs.”
But he also harkened back to his own presidential campaign. As part of his reflection, Obama recognized his youth and the fear he felt as he walked out onto the Denver Convention floor to accept the nomination eight years ago. “I was so young that first time in Boston. Maybe a little nervous addressing such a big crowd. But I was filled with faith; faith in America; the generous, bighearted, hopeful country that made my story, indeed, all of our stories possible.”
This was also finally Obama’s chance to get a few jabs in at Republlican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has launched fiery criticism of the Democrats and Hillary Clinton amid evidence that Russia had hacked DNC computer servers.
“He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either,” he said. “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.”
He also cited his observations of last week’s Republican National Convention.
“What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world,” he said. “There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate. And that is not the America I know.”
But as the crowd continued cheering in pockets from the floor, the president kept an positive tone throughout his speech even as he outlined the nation’s and the world’s challenges, touching on enacting health care reform protecting consumers from fraud, bringing about marriage equality and reestablishing relations with Cuba..
“The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity,” he remarked. “The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties – about paying the bills, protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice. 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. Parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we have.”
It was the perfect segue into his encouragement and endorsement of Clinton to be the next president.
“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. But Hillary’s been in the room; she’s been part of those decisions, “ said President Obama. “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. 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.”
As Obama’s speech concluded, Hillary Clinton surprised convention-goers and appeared on stage. As the crowd erupted in cheers, Hillary Clinton embraced Obama, solidifying the passing of the baton. Clinton is expected to speak Thursday night, accepting the nomination of the Democratic party to run for president.
Also on night three, attendees heard from Vice Presidential Nominee, Tim Kaine. He said, “Feel the Bern, but don’t get “Berned” by Donald J. Trump.” Other speakers included: former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oscar Nominated Actress Angela Bassett, Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and an epic performance from Lenny Kravitz.
Watch the president’s full address below.