Clinton, Obama Fired Up at Charlotte Rally

      (CN) – Only hours after the FBI recommended no charges for her controversial email practices as secretary of state, an unbowed Hillary Clinton was in Charlotte, North Carolina, alongside President Barack Obama in their first joint appearance of the 2016 campaign.
     Bounding onstage at the Charlotte Convention Center to Rachel Platten’s “This Is My Fight Song,” President Obama pumped his right fist into the air, joining a crowd of several thousands in chanting, “Hillary! Hillary!”
     An ebullient Clinton clearly had shaken off FBI Director James Comey’s assessment that she’s been “extremely careless” with her email while overseeing U.S. foreign policy, and was instead in full-throated and combative campaign mode.
     Clinton described the president she hopes to succeed as someone who’s never forgotten where he comes from.
     “And Donald, if you’re out there tweeting, it’s Hawaii,” she added, chiding her presumptive Republican opponent.
     She also observed that the president, “knows a thing or two about winning elections.”
     “And he also knows that despite all the progress we’ve made under his leadership and yes we have we still have a lot of work to do.”
     As Clinton spoke, President Obama sat behind her on a stool, listening intently as she took shots at Trump and lauded the Obama administration’s record.
     “I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for saving our economy,” she said recalling the 2008 global financial crisis. “We’ve added 14 million private sector jobs … 20 million people now have health care. Clean energy production has soared … I could go on and on … That is what leadership looks like.”
     No mention was made of the email scandal, or the FBI’s announcement. Instead, the two political heavyweights sought to cast their relationship as that of one-time foes who have now become friends and allies.
     As most surely remember, Clinton and the president were bitter rivals during the 2008 Democratic primaries, but set aside their differences during the general election campaign that year. She then joined his cabinet as secretary of state, and has repeatedly said during campaign appearances that she wants to continue and build upon his legacy.
     Many political analysts say both have much to gain from their alliance. She needs the support of the Obama coalition to pull her above the razor thin margin she currently holds over Trump. As for the president, a Democratic successor is the best way to preserve his policies and protect his legacy.
     “As someone who was a former rival and came to put a lot of faith in her, we believe the president’s support for her is particularly meaningful to voters,” Clinton campaign adviser Jennifer Palmieri told the Associated Press.
     For his part, the president didn’t shy away from his past rivalry with Clinton, but talked about it with warmth. Obama says he had admired her when they worked together in the Senate but after the primary he admired her even more.
     “I always had to be on my game,” he said, recalling their primary debates, “Because Hillary always knew all her facts.”
     After a meditation on her tenure as secretary of state, the president said “I couldn’t be prouder than the things we’ve accomplished together, but I am ready to pass the baton.”
     Clinton and the president were originally supposed to make their first joint appearance in Wisconsin, by the June 15 rally was postponed in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
     Obama won North Carolina in the 2008 presidential election, becoming the first Democrat to win the state since 1976.
     In doing so, his campaign aggressively registered more young people and black voters, and he drew support from moderates in the booming suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham all groups Clinton hopes to rally to her cause.
     But Clinton also wants to appear presidential in her own right, and she spent Tuesday virtually wrapped in the trappings of the presidency. She and Obama flew to North Carolina on Air Force One, and when she spoke, she did so from a podium bearing the presidential seal.
     That alone got under the skin of Donald Trump, who tweeted, “Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary?” Donald Trump tweeted. “Who pays?”
     The president responded with a barb.
     “Anybody can tweet …Sasha tweets,” Obama said of his younger daughter. “But she doesn’t think that she should thereby be sitting behind the desk.”
     Trump will no doubt have much to say about Clinton’s rally, the president and the FBI’s announcement regarding Clinton’s emails, when he holds his own rally in North Carolina Tuesday night. He’ll be joined by Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the senate Foreign Relations Committee and rumored occupant of Trump’s short list of possible vice presidential nominees.
     Knowing it can’t blunt Trumps vitriol, the White House nevertheless attempted to get ahead of the GOP standard-bearer’s ire during the flight.
     Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president and Clinton spent time together during the flight, but did not discuss the email investigation or the FBI’s announcement.
     Earnest deflected questions about whether the president agrees with the FBI’s conclusion that Clinton was extremely careless with classified material. He said the White House received no advance word of the FBI’s decision or even that director Comey would be announcing it Tuesday.
     Earnest also said because the Justice Department hasn’t yet decided how to proceed on the FBI’s recommendation, White House would refrain from weighing in.
     “The president is aware of the news,” Earnest said, adding that the president remains “enthusiastic about her candidacy.”
     “The president will deliver a forceful case about Secretary Clinton’s qualifications and values that she would bring to the job of president of the United States,” the White House spokesman said.
     Asked what the president and Clinton were discussing on the plane, Earnest said “I would not be surprised if they do have an opportunity to discuss the ongoing a campaign.
     “Secretary Clinton has lots of people who have good intentions who can offer her solid political advice. The president is among them … She alone is the person who can make the right decision for her and her campaign,” he said.
     As for the significance of the president traveling with Clinton for their joint campaign appearance, Earnest said “People might conclude that the president has a lot of personal affection for Secretary Clinton. People might conclude that the president has a lot invested in the success of her campaign. With regard to the ongoing work at the department of Justice, we have made clear time and time again that neither President Obama nor the White House is involved in that investigation.”
     Earnest also attempted to throw cold water on speculation about the cost of the trip to taxpayers by saying the Clinton campaign would cover an appropriate portion of the cost through the Democratic National Committee.
     “The White House of course follows all of the rules and regulations that apply to presidential travel,” Earnest said.
     Presidents make all their airplane flights on Air Force One, no matter the purpose of the trip. Political committees are required to contribute to the cost of a president’s campaign-related travel, though a portion of such costs is also borne by taxpayers.
     Photo caption:
     President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton embrace during a campaign rally, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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