PHILADELPHIA —The United States is a great, strong country that depends on Americans achieving together, President Barack Obama told the Democratic National Convention in his closing remarks on Wednesday night.
Upon Obama’s entrance into the arena, many audience members rose from their seats. Minutes later, they chanted his slogan “Yes, we can!” as he prepared to speak.
“I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together —black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women; folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love,” he said. Cheers drowned out his final words.
Obama noted that since his first speech at the DNC in 2008, this “generous, big-hearted, hopeful” nation had grown even more successful. He listed victories like bringing troops home, delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, diplomatically negotiating the shutdown of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, legalizing same-sex marriage and extending healthcare to 20 million more people.
Acknowledging that too many challenges remain to address in even one lifetime, Obama nevertheless expressed optimism about America’s future.
“Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope!” he said. “The Audacity of Hope” was the title of his 2006 autobiography.
Obama noted that after his eight years in office, he is ready to move back to private life. He added that electing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will show that America rejects cynicism and fear, and that Clinton will be able to work across the aisle.
Obama attributed dysfunction in the U.S. government to Americans demonizing one another.
“Democracy works, America, but we gotta want it —not just during an election year, but all the days in between,” he said.
He called on people to vote not just for the President, but also for mayors, sheriffs and other public servants who will reform processes.
Once Obama mentioned Hillary Clinton, introducing her as the next President of the United States, the crowd chanted “Hillary” over and over.
He noted that she worked so hard because she cared about everyone who needed her help, and praised her tenure as his Secretary of State. “For four years, I had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her judgment and her discipline.”
He praised Clinton’s work ethic, noting that she didn’t want praise or attention for her service, and highlighted her work with the Children’s Defense Fund. He added that Clinton has never forgotten who she is fighting for, and never backs down from a challenge.
“No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits,” Obama said to applause and whistles.
Obama then compared Clinton’s campaign and record to that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
He characterized Trump’s campaign as full of resentment, blame, hate and anger, aspects all inconsistent with the real state of America.
The Republican Party is backing a dishonest, fearmongering businessman who has never shown concern for working people, Obama said.
The President added that, if elected, Trump would jeopardize the safety of Americans. Trump describes the military as being weak, admires Vladmir Putin and Saddam Hussein, and supports abandoning commitments to countries that cannot pay the United States for aid, such as certain NATO allies, Obama noted.
America’s values remain cherished by people of every party, faith and race, he said, noting that what is inside is what counts for making someone American.
In a veiled jab at Trump, the President said any homegrown demagogues will fail in the United States. “Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled.”
Obama noted that the current presidential race is not just between parties or policies.
“This is a more fundamental choice about who we are as a people and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government,” he explained.
Obama described Hillary as the most qualified person to ever run for the highest office in America.
“I’m asking you to join me —to reject cynicism and reject fear, and to summon what is best in us, to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.”
Obama took the floor just before 11 p.m. At the end of his speech, Hillary, who was scheduled to arrive the next day, unexpectedly appeared. The two remained in close contact as they walked back and forth onstage.
U.S. Representative for Colorado Jared Polis ’96, a DNC attendee, said nobody knew she would enter the arena on Wednesday.“That was amazing,” he said. “It was great to see her and President Obama embrace, and it was just such a surprise. I think most of us were expecting maybe Michelle to come out, but it was amazing to see Hillary.”