President Barack Obama and one-time rival Hillary Clinton have joined forces as Clinton seeks to win the White House and the current president tries to ensure his policies endure beyond his presidency.
Obama delivered an impassioned case for why he believes Americans should elect Clinton, his Democratic colleague, as the 45th president of the United States.
“I’m fired up! Hillary got me fired up and I’m ready to do some work!” he told a large and lively crowd at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. Obama said he was "ready to pass the baton" to Clinton.
Obama cast his former secretary of state as an intelligent, highly qualified, hard-working, tough and passionate leader who will protect the nation, help working families, and promote American interests and values.
“She’ll know how to mobilize the world around the causes we believe in, that we know are right and make sure other countries pull their own weight,” he said. “That’s strength. That’s leadership. And that’s why Hillary Clinton needs to be the next president of the United States of America!” Obama told the cheering crowd.
Trump attacking Clinton's handling of emails
Hours later, Clinton's Republican rival, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, wasted no time in attacking Clinton for her handling of emails while she served as the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey concluded after a months-long investigation that no criminal charges were warranted against Clinton, but said she was "extremely careless" in her handling of classified material.
Trump, the one-time television reality show host seeking elected office for the first time, told a rally in the North Carolina capital, Raleigh, "She can't keep her emails safe, and she can't keep our country safe.
"Her judgment is horrible," Trump said. "She will be such a lousy president, folks."
Trump described Obama's speech for her as "a carnival act." But the president remains highly popular within the Democratic Party and his support for Clinton is expected to give the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee a much-needed boost.
The investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server rather than a more secure government server has been a drag on her campaign, with many voters questioning her honesty. National polling in the U.S. shows voters have highly unfavorable views of both Trump and Clinton.
Clinton flew to the North Carolina rally with Obama aboard Air Force One, the highly recognizable presidential aircraft that evokes the power of the U.S. presidency.
Obama and Clinton delivered speeches in which they closely aligned their policies and visions for the future.
Clinton recalled how she and Obama “went from political rivals, to partners, to friends” following the grueling presidential campaign battle in 2008.
“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,” Clinton said.
She promised to promote job growth, make community college free and keep jobs from going overseas. She called for wealthy corporations and individuals to pay their “fair share” of taxes, and for policies she said would help American families, such as affordable child care and paid family leave.
“Most of all, we are going to build on the vision of America that President Obama has always championed, a vision for a future where we do great things together,” Clinton added.
Norman Ornstein, political expert with the American Enterprise Institute, said, “Obama remains wildly popular and that will be a help to her."
However, Obama’s level of commitment also signals something about him, experts suggested.
“It says, first of all, that he is intent, first of all in preserving his legacy, and he’s very much aware that the next president is critical to that,” said Ornstein. “At the same time, it says he feels warmly enough toward Hillary Clinton that he’s not going to keep any distance.”
Clinton said Obama “knows a thing or two about winning elections,” and her campaign is already drawing from the fundraising and social media teams that helped propel him to the White House.
“A lot of the people who worked on Obama’s campaign, including those who worked against Clinton, are now mobilizing for her and she’s very happy to have them,” said Ornstein.
Clinton will have to navigate carefully moving forward.
She has spoken out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as it stands. Obama has made passage of the massive trade deal a key priority.
However, there is opposition to the TPP in both the Democratic and Republican parties and Clinton could alienate large voting blocs already deeply frustrated with the political establishment in Washington.
“She’s going to follow through on this as much as she can,” Ornstein predicted. “It will be very interesting to see how much this become an issue at the convention and of course TPP is still a dicey deal whatever position Clinton takes on it.”