President Obama formally passed the torch to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday — but not before using it to try to burn down Donald Trump’s hopes of the White House and to light a fire under any Democratic voters inclined to stay home in November.
“America is already great, America is already strong,” Obama told rowdy, sign-waving party activists packed into Wells Fargo Center arena here, cheering his direct assault on the Republican nominee’s signature slogan.
“And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump,” he said, to commingled hurrahs and laughter.
The brash entrepreneur “is not actually offering any real solutions,” Obama contended. “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.”
At one point, he veered away from prepared remarks to knock Trump’s embrace of birtherism, the disproven, racism-fueled conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore an illegitimate president.
“My grandparents, they came from the heartland; their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago,” he said. “I don’t know if they had their birth certificates, but they were there!”
And Obama promised that Hillary would “finish the job” of defeating the so-called Islamic State, while protecting and advancing his consequential and controversial legacy on issues like health care reform, reining in Wall Street and advancing gay rights.