Obama puts pull be­hind new push

Rid­ing polls, good eco­nomic data, he stumps for Clin­ton

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Michael A. Me­moli

PHILADEL­PHIA — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama hadn’t hit the cam­paign trail in a while. So he wanted to make sure Tues­day that vot­ers re­mem­bered where he stood.

“I am re­ally into elect­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton,” Obama told a crowd at an out­door rally in Philadel­phia. “This is not me go­ing through the mo­tions here. I re­ally, re­ally, re­ally want to elect Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

Obama’s day job has kept him busy, but he re­turned to the stump with vigor, al­ter­nately mak­ing the case for his for­mer sec­re­tary of state and re­pu­di­at­ing Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump, of­ten with bit­ing sar­casm.

“This guy who spent 70 years on this earth show­ing no con­cern for work­ing peo­ple — this guy’s sud­denly go­ing to be your cham­pion?” Obama asked.

The pres­i­dent pre­viewed a role he will play with greater reg­u­lar­ity in the cam­paign’s clos­ing weeks as Clin­ton’s most high-pro­file ad­vo­cate.

Both the White House and Clin­ton’s cam­paign aim to use the power of the pres­i­den­tial seal, Obama’s en­hanced pop­u­lar­ity and his cred­i­bil­ity with key seg­ments of vot­ers to pre­serve the pres­i­dency for Democrats, and much of his per­sonal legacy in the process.

The pres­i­dent’s last pub­lic cam­paign ap­pear­ance was nearly seven weeks ago, also in Philadel­phia, where he de­liv­ered a full-throated en­dorse­ment of Clin­ton at the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion.

Since then, he’s trav­eled to Asia for a se­ries of in­ter­na­tional sum­mits. He’s Pres­i­dent Barack Obama soaks up a wave of crowd sup­port af­ter mak­ing the case for Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton on Tues­day in Philadel­phia. also mind­ing an ad­mit­tedly scant leg­isla­tive agenda while Con­gress is in town.

On Mon­day, he met with the top lead­ers in both par­ties to dis­cuss a govern­ment fund­ing mea­sure that must be passed by month’s end to avoid a pre-elec­tion govern­ment shut­down.

But his re­turn to the cam­paign trail couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time for her as she re­cu­per­ates from pneu­mo­nia, which her cam­paign de­layed in re­veal­ing, re­new­ing wide­spread crit­i­cism about her level of trans­parency. Clin­ton her­self will be back on the cam­paign trail Thurs­day af­ter her re­cu­per­a­tion.

She is sched­uled to ad- dress the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus In­sti­tute din­ner in Washington on Thurs­day evening and ap­pear on “The Tonight Show” on Fri­day, cam­paign spokesman Nick Mer­rill said.

Obama made a sub­tle ref­er­ence to Clin­ton’s health Tues­day, laud­ing her for the stamina she dis­played on record-set­ting travel as his top diplo­mat. He fo­cused more on her char­ac­ter and her readi­ness to as­sume the of­fice.

“This is not the usual choice be­tween par­ties and poli­cies and left and right. This is more fun­da­men­tal,” Obama said. “This is a fun­da­men­tal choice about whowe are as a peo­ple. This is a choice about the very mean­ing of Amer­ica.”

A mes­sage of stay­ing the course typ­i­cally doesn’t help a party seek­ing a third con­sec­u­tive term in the White House. And sec­ondterm pres­i­dents have rarely been as ac­tive on the cam­paign trail as Obama in­tends to be this fall.

But a new Washington Post/ ABC News poll showed Obama en­joy­ing his strong­est poll num­bers in years, with 58 per­cent of those sur­veyed say­ing they ap­proved of his job per­for­mance.

That makes him a valu­able as­set for the Clin­ton cam­paign as she strug­gles to win over skep­ti­cal vot­ers frus­trated with their op­tions.

And Obama came into the event with more good news, cit­ing fresh cen­sus data that showed house­hold in­comes grew sharply in 2015 af­ter years of stag­na­tion.

“We’ve shown that progress is pos­si­ble,” Obama said, declar­ing he was ready to “pass the ba­ton” to Clin­ton.

Obama also pub­licly voiced frus­tra­tion over news cov­er­age of the race that he and many Democrats have ex­pressed pri­vately, ag­i­tat­ing over what he sees as a false equiv­a­lency be­tween the li­a­bil­i­ties of two of the least-liked nom­i­nees in gen­er­a­tions.

“Don­ald Trump says stuff every day that used to be con­sid­ered as dis­qual­i­fy­ing for be­ing pres­i­dent. Be­cause he says it over and over again, the press just gives up,” he said. “We can­not af­ford to treat this like a re­al­ity show.”

He also re­buked Trump for his fond­ness for Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Obama has to do busi­ness with Putin, he noted, but he hardly con­sid­ered him a role model.

“Can you imag­ine Ron­ald Rea­gan idol­iz­ing some­one like that?” he asked.

DAVID MAIALETTI/PHILADEL­PHIA IN­QUIRER

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