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Obama gives a ringing pitch for Clinton, rips apart Trump's claims

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PHILADELPHIA — President Barack Obama gave a ringing endorsement of Hillary Clinton here Wednesday, offering a portrait of a tenacious public servant uniquely prepared to continue his work and stave off a threat to American values posed by Donald Trump.

"I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America," Obama said. "I hope you don't mind, Bill, but I was just telling the truth, man."

The president highlighted what he deemed the successes of his nearly eight years in office, saying Americans "fueled (his) dogged faith in our future, even when the odds are great." He defended Clinton from attacks across the political spectrum and called on voters to reject Trump's rhetoric and claims that "only he" can fix a broken country.

"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, to 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," Obama said, raising his voice over a roar of applause at the Democratic National Convention.

After Obama's address, Clinton joined him onstage as Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" played. The pair pointed at one another then hugged in front of a floor of delegates standing and shaking "Obama" signs.

US President Barack Obama stands on stage with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Obama, whose approval rating stands higher than it has for most of his tenure at roughly 50 percent, aims to help Clinton with voter doubts. Both Clinton and Trump have high unfavorable ratings from voters in what has started to look like a tighter general election contest.

Obama tried to spell those doubts about Clinton, recently fueled by an investigation into her handling of classified information while secretary of state under Obama. "Nothing truly prepares you" for the stress of the presidency but being there, Obama contended.

"Hillary's been in the room, she's been part of those decisions. She knows what's at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working family, the senior citizen, the small business owner, the soldier and the veteran. Even in the middle of crisis, she listens to people and keeps her cool and she treats everybody with respect," Obama said.

He contended Trump is "not really a plans guy," dispelling his claims that the American economy is broken and that crime has risen. Obama has repeatedly stressed solidarity with peaceful Muslims and claimed Trump's proposals, like one to temporarily ban immigration from countries with links to terrorism, only embolden violent groups.

Obama also attacked Trump's business record and contentious plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, praising Clinton for pursuing immigration reform as he has done.

"Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists. Families that came here for the same reasons our forebears came — to work, and study, and make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we please. She knows their dream is quintessentially American, and the American Dream is something no wall will ever contain," Obama said to loud applause.

Obama's endorsement brought him full circle from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when Clinton endorsed him after she lost a hard-fought primary. That year, Clinton motioned to nominate the eventual president by acclamation on the convention floor, a gesture runner-up Sen. Bernie Sanders repeated for her Tuesday.

Obama praised the energy of Sanders' fervent supporters Wednesday, but called on them to support Clinton even if they have doubts about her policies.

"So if you agree that there's too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders' supporters have been," he said.