Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, spoke at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday evening, the day after Hillary Clinton made history of her own, becoming America’s first woman major-party nominee.
Taking the stage to chants of “Yes we can!” Obama started by praising his daughters and wife, Michelle, who gave her own moving speech in Philadelphia earlier in the week.
“I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before,” he said, comparing this moment in the nation’s history to 2004, when he gave his first DNC speech — the one that made him a political star.
“This is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice about policies,” he said. “This is a more fundamental choice about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment.”
Speaking of his travels around the country, Obama said, rebuking Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, “What I have seen more than anything is what is right with America.”
He praised Clinton’s “unbelievable work ethic” and “tenacity” — something he experienced as her Democratic primary rival in 2008, and ultimately came to admire, he said.
“There has never been anyone more qualified” to be president, he said, including himself and Bill Clinton. (“I hope you don’t mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man.”)
When he invoked Donald Trump’s name at one point, and the crowd booed, Obama chastened them. “Don’t boo — vote,” he said.
“The Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either,” Obama said. “He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I’ve met many business men and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated.”
“I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump,” he said, saying later on that “the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain.”
President Obama also acknowledged Bernie Sanders and his supporters, remarking at one point, “That’s right: Feel the Bern!”
“If you want more justice in the justice system, we have to vote not just for president,” but also for local offices, he noted. “That’s how democracy works.”
He added that “you can’t afford to stay home because [Clinton] doesn’t align with you on every issue.”
Though Obama’s speech was often fiery, it also included some lighter moments, like when he made a joke about his grandparents’ birth certificates — a sly reference to the “birtherism” championed by Trump.
“We’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands,” the president said in his speech, to much applause. “Yes we can. Not yes she can, not yes I can — yes we can.”