Pres­i­dent stumps for Clin­ton in Philadel­phia

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kath­leen Hen­nessey

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Ac­cus­ing Repub­li­cans of fan­ning hate, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Tues­day stepped in to de­fend a bruised and tem­po­rar­ily benched Hil­lary Clin­ton, hop­ing to re­as­sure Democrats ner­vous both about their pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s health and her han­dling of fresh trou­ble on her cam­paign.

Speak­ing at an out­door rally in a Demo­cratic strong­hold, Obama praised Clin­ton as the most qual­i­fied can­di­date ever to seek the of­fice and mocked her op­po­nent Don­ald Trump as “not fit in any way” to lead. He sug­gested Clin­ton was again the vic­tim of un­fair treat­ment and a scan­dal ma­chine that has dogged her through­out her long political ca­reer.

“What sets Hil­lary apart is that through it all she just keeps on go­ing and she doesn’t stop car­ing and she doesn’t stop try­ing and she never stops fight­ing for us even if we haven’t al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated it,” Obama said. “I un­der­stand, we’re a young coun­try, we are a rest­less coun­try. We al­ways like the new shiny thing. I ben­e­fited from that when I was a can­di­date, and we take for granted some­times what is steady and true. And Hil­lary Clin­ton is steady and she is true.”

The re­marks were the clos­est Obama came to men­tion­ing Clin­ton’s rough week­end, dur­ing which she dis­par­aged “half” of Trump sup­port­ers and then back­tracked some­what on her re­marks. She also was forced to abruptly leave an event be­cause of an ill­ness she had not dis­closed. Clin­ton was caught on video strug­gling to stay on her feet. Her cam­paign later said she been di­ag­nosed with pneu­mo­nia. Clin­ton can­celed cam­paign events this week to re­cover.

The in­ci­dent and the cam­paign’s at­tempt to keep the di­ag­no­sis se­cret re­vived long-held con­cerns about Clin­ton’s ten­dency to hun­ker down dur­ing a cri­sis, mak­ing mat­ters worse.

Clin­ton spent the day read­ing brief­ing ma­te­rial, mak­ing calls and watch­ing Obama’s speech from her home in Chap­paqua, New York, her cam­paign said. She’s due back on the cam­paign trail Thurs­day.

To an au­di­ence of roughly 6,000 sup­port­ers in down­town Philadel­phia, Obama ar­gued that Clin­ton has been more trans­par­ent in pro­vid­ing health and fi­nan­cial records than her ri­val, as well as re­leas­ing her past tax re­turns while Trump re­fuses to re­lease his.

Obama said the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion has “saved count­less lives around the world,” while Trump used his char­ity to buy “a six­foot-tall paint­ing of him­self,” Obama said, ref­er­enc­ing a Washington Post in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Trump’s char­ity.

“I mean, you know, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot ver­sion,” he said.

Obama is seek­ing to gen­er­ate mo­men­tum for Clin­ton in a race that has be­come un­com­fort­ably close for many Demo­cratic sup­port­ers. The lat­est poll by Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity found her with a 5 per­cent­age-point edge over Trump in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Obama’s event at an out­door plaza in front of the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art was his third for Clin­ton, in­clud­ing his speech at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, also in Philadel­phia. The pres­i­dent, who re­mains broadly pop­u­lar among the Demo­cratic base, is viewed as a key as­set in push­ing die-hard Democrats to the polls, es­pe­cially in bat­tle­ground state ur­ban cen­ters such as Philadel­phia.

Greeted with chants of “thank you!,” the pres­i­dent sought to trade on that pop­u­lar­ity. He told the crowd that he’s en­thu­si­as­ti­cally be­hind Clin­ton — and they should be, too — a sort of ac­knowl­edge­ment of lack of en­thu­si­asm among the ranks about Clin­ton’s bid.

“Look, can I just say I am re­ally into elect­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton. Like this not me go­ing through the mo­tions here,” he said. “I re­ally, re­ally, re­ally want to elect Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

Obama also ap­pealed to Trump sup­port­ers. He tried to un­der­mine the Repub­li­can busi­ness­man’s claim as a work­ing-class hero. He ac­cused Trump of be­ing un­pre­pared, un­se­ri­ous and “not a facts guy.” He seized on Trump’s praise of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, whom Obama cast as an au­thor­i­tar­ian strong­man who con­trols the me­dia and crushes dis­sent.

“Can you imag­ine Ron­ald Rea­gan idol­iz­ing some­body like that?” Obama said, in­vok­ing the Repub­li­can icon.

Brand­ing Repub­li­cans as pro­mot­ing “a dark vi­sion,” the pres­i­dent said, “They’re not of­fer­ing se­ri­ous so­lu­tions — they’re just fan­ning re­sent­ment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”

Obama re­served part of his speech to “vent” about the me­dia, ar­gu­ing news or­ga­ni­za­tions have treated Clin­ton un­fairly and ap­plied what he de­scribed as a false equiv­a­lence when cov­er­ing the cam­paigns’ trou­bles.

“You don’t grade the pres­i­dency on a curve,” he said. “This is se­ri­ous busi­ness.”

Trump’s cam­paign met Obama with a state­ment sug­gest­ing he was shirk­ing his du­ties.

“Shouldn’t you be at work?” it read. “Pres­i­dent Obama would rather cam­paign for Hil­lary Clin­ton than solve ma­jor prob­lems fac­ing the coun­try.”

Trump was sched­uled to cam­paign later Tues­day in a Philadel­phia sub­urb. Penn­syl­va­nia, which was car­ried by a Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in the past six elec­tions, is viewed as es­sen­tial for Trump’s chances of achiev­ing the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed to win the pres­i­dency.

Af­ter the speech, Obama at­tended a closed fundraiser in Philadel­phia for the Clin­ton cam­paign and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. About 25 at­ten­dees, who con­trib­uted $33,400 each, were ex­pected to at­tend. The event hosts gave $100,000.

He then was fly­ing to New York City for a Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee fundraiser at the home of hedge­fund founder Jim Chanos. Tick­ets for the event started at $16,700.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An au­di­ence mem­ber holds up a sign as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama speaks at cam­paign event for Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton on Tues­day at Eakins Oval with the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art seen in the back­ground in Philadel­phia.

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