PHILADELPHIA: The American Dream is an unfinished project that no wall can contain, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday in a rousing endorsement of Hillary Clinton — and put-down of Donald Trump — as he handed over the Democratic baton, and possibly the White House keys, to the country’s first female presidential nominee.
In what was virtually a valedictory speech, the United States’ 44th President, himself the first of mixed race, ”signed, sealed, and delivered” his legacy to a putative female successor, saying she is eminently suited to lead a ”big, bold country that we love,” whose challenges cannot be met in one term, or one presidency, or even in one lifetime.
But, he asserted, ”I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman — not me, not Bill Clinton, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America.”
It was an expansive commendation given the presidential greats preceding them. But Obama reeled off his one-time foe’s scroll of experience tempered in a steely, high-power environment of administering the world’s most powerful country.
He cited a delightful Fred Astaire tribute to his dancing partner as he praised the Hillary’s strength, discipline, and deftness during their political battles: She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backward in heels.
The rich political and administrative resume of Hillary Clinton presented by Obama and his associates through the day contrasted sharply with what they suggested are Donald Trump’s dubious credentials, with speakers eviscerating his purported mediocrity and tackiness.
Obama could barely contain his contempt for Trump. Referring to Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again, he lit into Hillary’s opponent, asserting, ”America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”
Hours of sharp-tongued attacks on the Republican nominee concluding with Obama soaring rhetoric ended with Hillary Clinton herself making a surprise appearance on stage at the end of his speech, bringing the roof down in the convention center and provided a healing touch after two fractious days of dissidence. The two of them, having fought for the Democratic nomination in 2008, hugged and waved to delirious supporters — a rainbow coalition of races, ethnicities, and religions.
The full-spectrum attack on Trump and Republicans, whose convention was visibly white-dominated, included vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s appeal to social conservatives and Republicans disenchanted with that party’s xenophobia. ”Anyone who’s looking for the Party of Lincoln, we’ve got room for you right here,” Kaine said, throwing in snatches of Spanish he learned as a volunteer in Honduras to woo the Hispanic vote (11-12 per cent of the US electorate).
Democrats also pitched for on-the-fence voters, deploying former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, to woo them. Calling for electing Hillary Clinton ”not for party loyalty but for love of country,” Bloomberg trashed his fellow Big Apple billionaire, saying ”I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”
On a day of thoughtful and elaborate political choreography, Democrats wheeled out an array of supporters to endorse the party and its candidate, from a war widows to victims of gun violence to a former police chief to a grandmother in Ohio (a toss-up state without winning which no Republican has entered the White House).
Among them was former Congresswoman Gaby Giffords, who survived a gunshot through her skull in an attempt on her life in 2011. ”Speaking is difficult for me. But come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President,” Giffords, who is still undergoing therapy, said in one of the most moving endorsements of the day.