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Barack Obama passes the baton to Hillary Clinton

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The first black president made the case for electing the first female president at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia late Wednesday night.

Barack Obama made a speech that some might say was as much a paean to the U.S. of America as it was for keeping the presidency in the Democratic Party’s hands for another four years by electing Hillary Clinton, who served as his secretary of state in his first term.

Whether or not Obama’s speech will go down as the defining statement to help elect Clinton as Bill Clinton’s speech in 2012 was considered for Obama will be decided by the pundits later on. But it was certainly an effective speech in what was probably the president’s last major speech.

“Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me,” Obama said as he closed. “I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you’re who I was talking about twelve years ago, when I talked about hope — it’s been you who’ve fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds are great; even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; the audacity of hope!

“America, you have vindicated that hope these past eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen. This year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me — to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s 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.”

As was reported just as Obama began the speech on Twitter, Clinton joined the president for a curtain call after the speech.

Obama hit Donald Trump hard — very hard, in the address, comparing him indirectly to a fascist.

“Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix,” the president said. “It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”

The president acknowledged that “Hillary’s got her share of critics.”

“She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine — and some things you can’t. But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described — not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena … who strives valiantly; who errs …[but] who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement.”

Obama’s speech followed the biggest night of the convention in attempting to expose Trump as a fraud and disaster for the American public.

Vice President Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Leon Panetta and VP nominee Tim Kaine all laid waste to Trump earlier in the evening.

The Trump campaign weighed in and accused the Democrats of being the pessimists, and Team Trump as the man who has a positive vision for America.

“Instead of dealing with reality, they spoke in cheap, petty terms beneath the dignity of a convention,” said spokesman Stephen Miller. ”Their entire message could be summed up as: things are perfect, let’s not change a single thing. So they resorted to the politics of fear, trying to convince Americans not to vote for change — they spoke on behalf of the big banks and the big elites, not on behalf of suffering Americans. They want to keep the system rigged for their donors. Period. Rigged trade deals, a rigged economy, and open borders that benefit the few at the expense of the many. Our campaign offers a bold, exciting, detailed vision for the future.”

Day Four of the convention starts up Thursday.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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