DNC: Obama 'ready to pass the baton' to Clinton

Kathleen Hennessey and Calvin Woodward
Associated Press

Philadelphia — One-time rivals Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama embraced on stage after his speech Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, where he called her the most qualified candidate by far and urged delegates to elect her in November. .

Clinton made the surprise appearance with Obama a night before she addresses the convention.

The president told Democrats he’s “ready to pass the baton” to Clinton in her campaign against Republican Donald Trump.

"Hillary has real plans to address the issues she's heard from you on the campaign trail," said Obama. "...That's what leaders do."

Obama's speech came just one day after Clinton officially became the first woman to head the ticket of a major party.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is at this week's convention as a delegate, called Obama's speech "fantastic" and said it was like he was saying goodbye.

The entire convention has been "one perfect moment to the next – the right order, the right people, the right issues," said Worthy. "It just reminds me of all the reasons why I’m a Democrat."

Vote, don't just boo Trump, Obama says

Obama spoke for more than 20 minutes, delving into the background of his one-time rival and making the case for why she's the right person to lead the country.

When he came to a part of his speech critical of Donald Trump — and the mention of the GOP nominee’s name caused the crowd of delegates to boo — Obama didn’t miss a beat.

He deviated from his prepared remarks to implore his fellow partisans: “Don’t boo. Vote!”

Obama told delegates and voters watching on TV that if they’re “concerned about who’s going to keep you and your family safe in a dangerous world,” then their Election Day choice is clear.

Obama says Clinton is “respected around the world not just by leaders, but by the people they serve.”

He says Clinton has worked closely with “our intelligence teams, our diplomats, our military.”

He says Clinton won’t relent until the Islamic State group is destroyed.

And in a reference to GOP nominee Donald Trump, Obama says Clinton will “finish the job — and she’ll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country.”

Trump using scare tactics

President Barack Obama blasted Donald Trump for trying to scare Americans into handing the GOP nominee the keys to the White House.

Obama told delegates that Trump believes he will win if he “scares enough people” over immigration and crime.

Obama says Trump is “selling the American people short” by suggesting “he alone can restore order” as a “self-declared savior.”

The second-term president notes that Democrats are meeting in the same city where American founders signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and later wrote the Constitution.

He quoted words from those documents, saying it’s “We the people” who “can form a more perfect union.”

Praises vigor of Sanders supporters

President Barack Obama said that if they believe that there’s too much inequality in our country and too much money in our politics, they need to be as vocal, organized and persistent “as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been.”

He says they need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket and then hold them accountable.

Obama says politics can be frustrating, but that “democracy works.” He says Americans have to “want it, not just during an election year but all the days in between.”

Making case for successor

Obama tried to make the case for his preferred successor, saying: “Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena.”

Obama says the Democratic nominee has been “there for us - even if we haven’t always noticed.”

The president told delegates that if they’re serious about democracy, “you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue.”

That’s a coy reference to supporters of Clinton’s primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

He tells activists: “You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport.”

Obama’s also referenced Trump in saying, “America isn’t about, ‘Yes he will.’ It’s about, ‘Yes we can.’”

He also said Trump “shows no regard for working people.”

Obama says he knows plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success like Trump has. But Obama says they’ve done it without leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid workers and “people feeling like they got cheated.”

Obama tells Democrats at their convention that “The Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either.”

He said anyone concerned about pocketbook issues and who wants a bigger voice for workers should vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Criticizes 'deeply pessimistic vision'

President Barack Obama criticized what he says is the “deeply pessimistic vision” of America he says he heard from Republicans at their convention last week.

Obama told delegates that Trump and his supporters proposed “no serious solutions to pressing problems.”

Instead, the president says Republicans spent their time fanning “resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”

Obama says “that’s not the America I know.”

He’s delivering a speech that makes the case for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s election as his successor.

Obama says the country is “full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity.”

The president is acknowledging that Americans have “real anxieties” and that some have not shared in the economy recovery.

Never been anyone more qualified

Obama said there’s never been a man or a woman — “not me, not Bill” — who’s more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be president.

Obama told delegates that “nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office.”

Obama says Clinton has been in that room and has been part of the decisions that a president makes.

He’s vouching for Clinton as someone who listens to people, keeps her cool and treats everybody with respect.

Obama says, “that’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire.”

Proved her mettle in 2008 primary

Obama says Clinton’s handling of their 2008 presidential primary rivalry proved her mettle as a public servant.

Obama said he was “worn out” by that race, but watched then-New York Sen. Clinton match him step-for-step — “backward in heels.”

He recalls asking her to serve as secretary of state after he won the general election, a move he says surprised her.

But Obama says Clinton “ultimately said yes” because “she knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us.”

Obama also defended his record during his two terms in the White House. He says the economy has rebounded and the world order has been sustained amid so many threats.

The Democratic president says at his party’s convention that “by so many measures our country is stronger and more prosperous than when we started.”

He cites falling deficits, a recovering auto industry, plummeting unemployment and his signature health care law.

He referenced his decision to order the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. And he championed the deal designed to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And he’s celebrating a “new chapter” of normalized relations with Cuba.

He says “change is never easy” and acknowledges that necessary changes aren’t accomplished “in one term, one presidency or even in one lifetime.”

More optimistic about future than ever

Obama opened by saying he’s “more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.”

Obama, speaking on the night before Clinton addresses the convention, made the case for her to continue his work.

The president says the nation has been tested by war and recession but he’s more optimistic about the country’s future.

President Barack Obama addresses Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia.

Obama arrived to an extended ovation and chants of “Yes, we can."

Video touches on tough calls

Democrats got a reminder of the loneliness of being president.

A video shown before Obama took the stage recalls the difficult decisions he faced as he took office amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Among the decisions Obama struggled with were whether to support a bailout of the U.S. auto industry and press for a health care overhaul.

He did both in the face of political concerns that he might not win re-election.

The video also explores Obama’s emotional reaction to the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Trump campaign hits back against Panetta

Donald Trump’s campaign is accusing Leon Panetta — a former CIA chief and defense secretary — of turning a blind eye to what it calls Hillary Clinton’s “enablement of foreign espionage.”

Trump adviser Stephen Miller says in a statement it’s “alarming” Panetta would, “through his silence,” condone Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Miller says Panetta “better than most, should know how many lives she put at risk.”

There’s no evidence Clinton’s actions put any lives at risk.

Panetta said at the Democratic convention that Trump’s comments encouraging Russia to find and make public emails deleted by Clinton disqualified him from being commander in chief

Kaine says Clinton ready to fight, win and lead

Tim Kaine focused on trust as he concluded his pitch — to Democrats in Philadelphia and to voters watching on TV — that Hillary Clinton should be the next president.

The Democrats’ vice presidential candidate told his party’s convention that “we better elect the candidate who’s proven that she can be trusted with the job.”

He adds there’s another standard that voters should consider: which candidate is “ready for the job.”

The Virginia senator says Clinton’s “ready because of faith. She’s ready because of her heart. She’s ready because of her experience. She’s ready because she knows in America we are stronger together.”

And here’s his closing line: “Hillary is ready. Ready to fight, ready to win, ready to lead.”

Kaine scoffs at Trump for saying ‘believe me’

Kaine tore into Trump as a “guy who promises a lot” but always follows up with the words “believe me.”

Kaine said in his speech that “most people, when they run for president, they don’t just say ‘believe me.’ They respect you enough to tell you how they will get things done.”

Kaine says the Republican presidential nominee has asked Americans to believe he’ll build a wall with Mexico, destroy the Islamic State group “so fast” — and that there’s nothing suspicious in the tax returns he won’t make public.

The Virginia senator says, “so here’s the question: Do you really believe him? Donald Trump’s whole career says you better not.”

Kaine promotes his lengthy government experience

Kaine promoted his lengthy government experience in his first major speech as the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

The Virginia senator — in a prime-time speech at the Democratic convention — detailed his rise from a member of the Richmond City Council to the city’s mayor, to Virginia’s lieutenant governor to governor.

Kaine says if he’s good at his work, it’s because he “started at the local level listening to people, learning about their lives and trying to get results.”

Kaine says it was hard work steering his state through the recession, but he says, “Hey, tough times don’t last - and tough people do.”

Sen. Tim Kaine ‘humbly’ accept Dem VP nomination

Kaine “humbly” accepted his party’s nomination for vice president.

Kaine tells the Democratic convention in Philadelphia that he formally accepts the party’s nomination on behalf of his wife, Anne, “and every strong woman in this country,” their three children and everyone in the military.

The former governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond says he’ll run for vice president on behalf of families working to get ahead, for senior citizens hoping for a dignified retirement and for every person who wants America to be a beloved community.

And Kaine says he’ll do it for his friend and running mate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Video tribute to Kaine cites working-class roots

A video introducing Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine emphasized his working-class roots and his service as Virginia’s governor and senator.

The video playing for convention delegates says Kaine’s life is “built on selfless humble service” and that he had a “Midwestern start in a working-class home in Kansas City.”

The tribute notes his work as a civil rights lawyer, commitment to family and work to bring Virginia together after a shooting at Virginia Tech while he was governor.

Clinton gets independent boost from Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Clinton — and gave her the support of an independent who says he votes based on the candidate, “not the party label.”

Bloomberg told delegates that the country must unite around Clinton because she can “defeat a dangerous demagogue.”

He’s offering a tough critique of businessman Donald Trump, saying, “I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.”

Bloomberg points to his work to build a business and compares that with Trump’s beginning in real estate:

“I didn’t start it with a million dollar check from my father.”

Biden says Clinton win will change girls’ lives

Vice President Joe Biden said Hillary Clinton’s election will have a major impact on young girls. He says when she walks into the Oval Office as president, “it will change their lives.”

Biden vouched for Clinton in a speech to the Democratic National Convention. He recalls his weekly breakfasts with Clinton when she served as secretary of state during the Obama administration.

Biden says everyone knows that Clinton is smart and tough but he says, “I know what she’s passionate about. I know Hillary.”

Dems pay tribute to victims of nightclub, Sandy Hook shooting

Democrats also paid tribute to the victims of the June attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Christine Leinonen told the crowd at the Democratic convention that her son — Christopher “Drew” Leinonen — always brought people together and started a gay-straight alliance in school.

He was one of the 49 patrons killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. She says her son’s grandparents met in a Japanese internment camp “so it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate.”

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said he’s “furious” about the lack of progress on gun control in the years since 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at the Connecticut school.

Murphy says Republicans in Congress have done “absolutely nothing to prevent the next massacre.”

Jesse Jackson: “It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time.”

Earlier, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Hillary Clinton can be trusted to fight for issues such as a fair Supreme Court, gun control and progressive policies.

The former presidential candidate says Clinton understands the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Alton Sterling.

Jackson also congratulated Sanders for energizing the campaign with “ideas and hope.”

In Jackson’s words: “The Bern must never grow cold.”

Still, he says, “It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time.”

Their political fates now entwined, President Barack Obama is imploring voters to elect  Clinton to the White House, appealing to the women, minorities and young people who powered his rise and are now crucial to hers.

In addition to party loyalty, a big motivation for Obama’s robust support is deep concern that Republican Donald Trump can win in November and unravel the president’s eight years in office.

In excerpts released Wednesday ahead of his speech to the Democratic convention, Obama acknowledged the economic and security anxieties that have helped fuel Trump’s rise, but he argued they don’t define the country.

“The America I know is full of courage and optimism and ingenuity,” Obama said.

For several hours on Wednesday, Trump stole the show.

He touched off a firestorm by encouraging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign — even as he dismissed suggestions from Obama and other Democrats that Moscow was already acting on the Republican’s behalf.

On the heels of reports that Russia may have hacked Democratic Party emails, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening,” he’d like to see Moscow find the thousands of emails Clinton says she deleted during her years as secretary of state. At about the same time, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, declared there would be “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in U.S. politics.

To Obama and Clinton, Trump’s comments only fed their contention that the billionaire businessman is unqualified to be commander in chief. Trump has no national security experience and few ties to the norms that have governed U.S. foreign policy under presidents from both parties, including standing by NATO allies threatened by countries including Russia.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” said Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan.

Wednesday night’s Democratic lineup was aimed at emphasizing Clinton’s own national security credentials, a shift from two nights focused more on re-introducing her to voters as a champion for women’s issues, children and families. Among those taking the stage is former Pentagon and CIA chief Leon Panetta, who served alongside Clinton in Obama’s Cabinet.

Obama, too, was vouching for Clinton’s national security experience, recalling their work together during trying times.

“Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect,” he said in speech experts. “And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.”

Vice President Joe Biden will deliver his valedictory, and Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, gets his turn in the spotlight, too.

In a move aimed at broadening Clinton’s appeal, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — an independent who considered launching a third party bid for president — will endorse the Democratic nominee.

Clinton’s campaign believes Trump’s unorthodox candidacy will turn off moderate Republicans, particularly women, who worry he’s too unpredictable to take the helm in a turbulent world. They recognize that Republicans, as well as many Democrats, have questions about Clinton’s character but hope to ease those concerns.

Still, the core of Clinton’s strategy is putting back together Obama’s winning White House coalition. In both his campaigns, Obama carried more than 90 percent of black voters, the overwhelming majority of Hispanics, and more than half of young people and women.

That coalition was vividly on display in the first two nights of the convention in Philadelphia. Women lawmakers were prominently featured, along with young activists, immigrants, and mothers whose black children were victims of gun violence or killed during encounters with law enforcement.

The base-boosting strategy has some Democrats worried Clinton is ceding too much ground to her opponent. Her convention has made little mention of the economic insecurity and anxiety that has, in part, fueled Trump’s rise with white, working-class voters.

Trump has cast himself as the “law-and-order” candidate and promised to get tough on terrorists. Democrats have little noted the threat of terrorism or the Islamic State group, though both were expected to be more relevant in Wednesday’s program.

Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Biden said his party had indeed failed to talk enough about the concerns of white, working-class voters.

The party has “done the right thing” for those voters, said Biden, but it hasn’t “spoken to them.”

“We’ve been consumed with crisis after crisis after crisis,” he said.

Clinton’s convention has been awash in history, with energized delegates celebrating her formal nomination as the first woman to ever lead a major political party in the general election. Some supporters of Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, continued to voice their displeasure with the pick, but there was nothing they could do to take the nomination away from Clinton.

“As of yesterday, I guess, officially our campaign ended,” a teary Sanders acknowledged during a meeting with New England delegates.

Clinton’s campaign hopes Sanders’ supporters refrain from protesting her running mate Kaine when he takes the stage Wednesday night. Liberals are unhappy with Kaine’s support for so-called “fast track” authority for a Pacific Rim trade pact, though Clinton aides say he now opposes the deal in its final form.

Staff Writer Maureen Feighan contributed.