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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Obama Stumps for Hillary in Battleground Ohio

CLEVELAND (CN) — Recalling his own achievements for at least 1,000 Ohio voters, President Barack Obama said Hillary Clinton is the only candidate worthy of their support on Election Day.

Addressing an adoring crowd on the tarmac at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, the president warned that all the progress made over the last eight years could be lost if Americans make the wrong choice on Nov. 8.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is quick to describe Obama's presidency as a "disaster" on the campaign trail, but Obama gamely refreshed the crowd's memory Friday about bringing the country's economy back from the brink of a second Great Depression, slashing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice, reviving the U.S. auto economy and delivering marriage equality in all 50 states.

Obama recalled the Democratic nominee's experience as a first lady, a senator and a secretary of state, and assured those in attendance that she understands the gravity of managing a global catastrophe or sending a young person to war.

"Even in the middle of crisis, she keeps her cool and pays everybody the proper respect," Obama said. "And most importantly, no matter how tough the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she doesn't point fingers or whine. She doesn't talk about how everything is 'rigged.' She just works harder and gets the job done and never, ever quits. And by the way, isn't that what you want from a president?"

Obama then turned his attention to Trump, who himself had praised Clinton's determination when asked to name something positive about his political adversary at the end of the second presidential debate.

"I notice her opponent," Obama continued. "He seems to be, in the middle of the game, making excuses all the time for why he might be losing. It's always interesting for me to see folks who talk tough, but then they don't act tough. If you're tough, you don't make excuses. You don't start complaining about the refs before the game's even done. You just play the game, right? That's what Hillary Clinton is doing. She's out there playing the game. She's just in the arena for you, fighting every single day to make sure that everybody gets a fair shake."

Obama then attacked Trump's deal-making prowess and the massive loss he declared in 1995 — a figure first reported by the New York Times after Trump's stonewalling made him the first major-party presidential candidate since the early 1970s to not release his income-tax returns.

"He says he great at making deals," Obama reminded the crowd. "I don't know a lot of people who operate a casino and manage to lose almost a billion dollars in one year. Usually the house wins. You know that saying, 'the house always wins?' Unless he owns the house. Then it loses a billion dollars."

Obama also mocked Trump's stance as a champion of the working class.


"I heard him in a speech yesterday, he started talking about global elites, that there was a conspiracy of global elites," Obama said with an incredulous smile. "This is a guy who spent all his time hanging around trying to convince everyone that he was a global elite! Talking about how great his buildings are, how luxurious and how rich he is, and flying around everywhere. All he had time for was celebrities! And now suddenly he's acting like he's a populist out there. 'Man, I'm going to fight for working people.' Come on, man. You want to know what somebody's going to do? Look at what they've been doing their whole lives."

Obama went on to attack the Republican's calls to jail political opponents and silence critical media. In an election that seems to be moving further and further out of Trump's reach, the fascist rhetoric has been compounded by Trump's increasing repetition of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that undermine the electoral process and give his hardcore supporters a reason to question the legitimacy of an unfavorable outcome.

The rise of the far-right movement that Trump has championed with such unexpected success is something for which the entire Republican Party must answer, Obama said.

"What's happened here is, over the last eight years, Republican officials who know better — some of whom I talk to; they're sane people; they're normal folks," Obama said. "But what they've done is they've allowed a lot of crazy talk to just be pumped out again and again, through all kinds of these media outlets. Conspiracy theories: I was born outside this country, and Hillary and I started ISIL, and we're going to impose martial law, and we're trying to take everybody's guns away, and crazier stuff than that. And a lot of Republican elected officials have just stood by. A lot of House members, a lot of senators — they stood by, and they didn't say anything, because it was a way to rile up their base, and it was a way to mount opposition to whatever we were trying to do. And over time, because a lot of the hardcore Republican partisan voters were just hearing this stuff over and over again, they started to believe it. And that's what allowed Donald Trump suddenly to emerge. Donald Trump didn't build all this crazy conspiracy stuff, and some Republicans who knew better stood by silently and even during the course of this campaign didn't say anything."

"I mean, I know that some of them now are walking away," the president chided, "but why'd it take you this long? You said you were — you're the party of family values. What, you weren't appalled earlier when he was saying degrading things about women, when he was judging them based on a score of 'Are they a 2 or a 10?' That wasn't enough for you? You're walking away from him now? It wasn't disturbing enough for you when he was saying Mexicans who come here are rapists or suggesting that people — patriotic Americans of the Islamic faith somehow are suspect and should be treated differently? That wasn't enough? I mean, I'm glad that some of them now said, 'Wow, this is really bad. I guess we need to — we need to walk away,' but if you're doing it just for political expedience, just because you're looking at poll numbers, and you say, 'Oh, this might get me in trouble.' That's not enough."

The president ended his address by hearkening back to the theme of hope that propelled his 2008 campaign, summoning voters to reject the politics of fear.

"You can lift again back up the politics of hope," Obama called. "Let's not go backward; let's go forward. You've got a chance to elect a woman who's spent her entire life trying to make this country better. Don't fall for the easy cynicism that says your vote doesn't matter. Don't fall for what Trump tries to do and just make everybody depressed. Don't believe it. I promise you, your vote counts. Your vote matters."


Obama blasted Trump's 'What do you have to lose?' argument.

"The answer is everything," the president said. "All the progress we've made right now is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot. Honesty is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Kindness is on the ballot. All the progress we've made in the last eight years is on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot right now."

The president's message was not lost on Malaz Elgemiabby, a Sudanese immigrant who came to America with her husband around the same time that Trump began campaigning for the White House. She attended the rally with her friend Reem Azab, who emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt four years ago.

"We sacrificed a lot to come here, we left family behind," Elgemiabby said in an interview after the rally, as the president made his way back to Air Force One. "We are highly skilled immigrants, and we're also Muslims. And we're here to build our future, but also to contribute positively to this country."

Elgemiabby and her husband are in America on J-1 Visas. She works as an architect and her husband is a physician in the Cleveland area who specializes in infectious disease. They have a young son who was born here in the United States.

"We are here to contribute positively to this country, but also to achieve our dream, and we shouldn't feel guilty about seeking a better life legally," said Elgemiabby.

Elgemiabby explained how her family in Sudan called her, concerned about her safety, after Trump began calling for a ban on Muslims and making other divisive campaign promises.

"Can you imagine them calling and being worried about us, here in the United States?" Elgemiabby said, with a nervous chuckle. "And they were saying, 'Are you safe? We've been hearing Trump saying [anti-immigrant rhetoric] on the TV. Are you safe?"

Elgemiabby's husband works with one of the founding members of STAT, short for Stand Together Against Trump, a nonpartisan group of health care professionals who formed specifically to protest Trump's nomination at this year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Elgemiabby said seeing her husband's colleagues join together in opposition of Trump's divisive, anti-immigrant policies helped to ease her fears and make her feel safe.

"Coming from a country that's been ruled by a dictator for 30 years, I don't even comprehend how the American people can allow this to happen," said Elgemiabby "I could see [Trump] fit perfectly in the description of a dictator in a third world country. People here should know better."

Emphasizing that she does not look with scorn upon Trump supporters, however, Elgemiabby said she believes Trump's business success attracts despondent voters who may not realize that Trump really only cares about himself.

"We come from Africa where community is very important," explained Elgemiabby. "You never think of yourself as alone. The well-being of society, the well-being of your community is part of your own well-being. There's a saying that you can go faster alone, but you can go farther with others."

That African adage sounds a lot like the campaign slogan of the very same candidate President Obama is so enthusiastically endorsing.

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