Shapiro introduces President Obama for DNC call
If you needed any more evidence that newly-elected Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is a rising star in the Democratic Party, being asked by President Obama to introduce him on a national phone call with Democrats Monday should go a long way toward convincing you.
Currently still serving as chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Shapiro was selected by Obama to make the introduction and he quoted from Obama’s second inaugural address to set the tone.
Shapiro recalled that four years ago, Obama said the work of the country is never really finished, and incomplete even in victory.
And to continue that work, the country must evoke “the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall,” Shapiro said, quoting from that second inaugural.
Noting that he was himself just blocks away from Independence Hall as he spoke to Democrats across the country, Shapiro said he could not help but be “aware of the anxiety” that grips parts of the nation — and the party — as a result of the Nov. 8 election results.
“We must each do our part to strengthen our union,” Shapiro said. “We can’t rely on others to make the change for us.”
Shapiro cited his own success on Nov. 8 as a symbol for hope, noting that “a progressive won in a state that went red” in the presidential election. He said Democrats should “take solace from the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.”
And he praised Obama for “laying the ground work and accomplishing so much” saying the president’s “vision has been a north star for us” and adding that Obama “will always bet on the American people and never against them.”
Coming off a national
news conference, Obama called Shapiro’s introduction “amazing” and, for his part was acted as both consoler-in-chief and cheerleader for party officials still reeling from Donald Trump’s stunning election as the nation’s 45th president.
“An expected loss is hard, but an unexpected loss is worse,” Obama told those on the call, which included journalists whose phones were muted so they would not ask questions. “I told my folks they’re allowed to mope, for a weekand-a-half, maybe two, but then we’ve got to brush ourselves off and get back to work.”
That work, for now, is to assure a smooth transition with President-elect Trump’s administration, but also to “be consistent with who we are as Democrats. We must ask difficult questions, but be respectful of different points of view and base our policies on facts,” Obama said.
Democrats must “assess where we have fallen short. I’ve said it before. We have better ideas, but they have to be heard so we can translate those ideas into votes,” said Obama.
“There are big chunks of the country who are not hearing us and they won’t hear us if we don’t show up,” he said. “It’s not something we can do just every four years,” he said arguing for more activity at the local and state levels. “We need to build trust, build relationships.”
Democrats not only lost the White House, but were unable to win back control of either the House or Senate, giving Republicans control of Congress when Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
Obama thanked all those who had worked so hard during the election, particularly Hillary Clinton who he said, “ran a history making race and shattered a barrier that will help little girls and little boys around the country know that anything is possible.”
“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did unbelievable work,” he said.
Saying that it is “indisputable that the country is better off than it was eight years ago,” Obama said nevertheless “we’ve run our stage of the race” in that never-ending effort to move the country forward.
He promised to stay involved and observed that it will be harder than some think to roll-back the measures he enacted while in office.
In the case of Obamacare, for example, Obama said many of the aspects of the national health insurance program — such as no penalty for a pre-existing condition and being allowed to carry children on a family plan until they are 26 — are exceedingly popular with the 12 million people who are making use of it.
“Even if they roll back 15 or 20 percent, that still leaves us 80 percent ahead,” said Obama.
“For the next two months, our main job is to finish strong,” Obama concluded, adding that things looked dark for Democrats the same year he was elected to the Senate.
“And two years later, I was president of the United States,” he said.
After Monday evening’s call, Shapiro said he was making banana-chocolate chip muffins with his wife and 5-year-old when interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile called about the introduction.
“The phone rang and my wife gave me that look that said you haven’t been home in 11 months and I let Donna Brazile go to voice mail,” Shapiro said with a chuckle.
When he called her back Brazile told Shapiro that when she asked Obama who he wanted to introduce him on the call, he suggested Shapiro.
“I first met the president in 2006 and I’ve met him many times. We have worked closely with his administration on things like public health, labor and workforce development, criminal justice reform, infrastructure and things of importance to the American-Jewish community,” Shapiro told Digital First Media.
He also noted that his candidacy was the only endorsement Obama issued for any attorney general race in the country this year.
And although he has introduced the president often “at rallies” and other events, Shapiro said he was particularly honored to be asked to introduce him on this call because “this is an important moment for Democrats. It’s when the president says thank you for your support.”
“And I am very thankful for the opportunity to have been asked to offer my voice of support,” Shapiro said of Obama’s request. “I’m truly grateful.”