(CN) – With his last State of the Union address behind him, President Barack Obama is expected to use his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night to defend and define his years in the White House while making his case for Hillary Clinton as his only worthy successor.
The president is scheduled to speak at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and his arrival at the podium will no doubt be bittersweet.
In was Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts that catapulted the then largely unknown Senatorial candidate from Illinois onto the national political stage.
On Wednesday night, he steps on the convention stage as a president who refused to bend to oppressive GOP opposition and is hoping his legacy won’t be prisoner to an unwelcome outcome in the election to replace him.
The Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has promised to undo nearly every progressive policy enacted during the Obama years, from healthcare reform to the promotion of renewable energy.
On Wednesday morning, during a taped interview with NBC’s “Today Show,” the president said Trump lacks “a basic knowledge about the world” and that Democrats or anyone considering voting Democratic in the fall should be “running scared” from a potential Trump presidency.
Reflecting on his on 2004 convention speech, Obama turned wistful, conceding the America he espoused then is not the nation that exists today.
“I’m the first to admit that when I spoke in 2004, when I ran in 2008, my hope, my expectation was that we could lift up all that common ground and create a new way of doing business in Washington and a new political tenor, a new political tone that was more respectful and more practical in trying to solve problems,” he told NBC. “And that hasn’t happened. But it doesn’t keep me from wanting to keep on trying.”
During a briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the president has been working on his convention speech for “a few weeks” and that while the president will no doubt reflect on his 2004 speech in Boston, he’ll also “talk about what the country has accomplished together since then … whether that’s coming back from the brink of economic collapse to the longest stretch of private sector job growth in our nation’s history, or … changing the way the world views the United States for the better.”
More than anything else, Schultz said, “I think [Wednesday] night’s speech will much more focus on how Secretary Clinton has the judgment, the toughness and the intellect to succeed in the Oval Office.”
One reporter asked how the president ranks the DNC speech compared to others he’s given before and during his presidency, and how he’s planning to top the speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama a speech that is still considered a highlight of the current convention.
The last part of the question inspired laughter throughout the White House briefing room.
“She set the bar very high,” Schultz said, joining in the laughter.
Turning more serious, he said the president is aware of the importance of the speech he will give Wednesday night.
” One is the President is aware of the importance of the speech,” the White House spokesman said. “Obviously the national conventions come around once every four years. They’re a high-profile moment. And the President believes that, as he said, the stakes are high in this campaign, that the choice for voters could not be starker. And he believes that this is an opportunity for him to not only make the case for why the record of accomplishment over the past eight years should indicate that we should continue on this path and not regress, but also why Secretary Clinton is uniquely qualified to make the decisions that a commander-in-chief would have to make.”
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine will make his convention debut directly before Obama’s speech. Wednesday is also the night he’ll be formally nominated to be Clinton’s running mate.
Vice president Joe Biden will also addresse the convention in prime time on Wednesday, as will New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
New York City’s current mayor, Bill De Blasio, will kick things off with the first address of the day at 4:30 p.m.
He’ll be followed on stage by California Gov. Jerry Brown;Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; the actress Sigourney Weaver; the Rev. Jesse Jackson;former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta;former congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; and Felicia Sanders & Polly Sheppard, two of the three survivors of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting in Charleston, SC.
FILE – In this Sept. 6, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The president acknowledged Wednesday, July 27, 2016, that his hopes for a new tone in politics, embodied in the rousing Democratic convention speech he delivered 12 years ago, never materialized. Still, he says he remains undaunted. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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