Obama Stumps For Clinton In Battleground State Of Pennsylvania

Sep 13, 2016
Originally published on September 13, 2016 6:26 pm
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Hillary Clinton was at home for a second straight day. Her campaign says she's trying to recuperate from pneumonia. In the meantime, she's getting help from some high-profile surrogates. President Obama headlined a voter mobilization rally for her in Philadelphia this afternoon. NPR's Scott Horsley was there and sent this report.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is good to be back on the campaign trail.

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SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: With the game clock winding down on his own time in the White House, President Obama was happy to play cheerleader today for the Democrat he hopes will take his place in the Oval Office.

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OBAMA: (Chanting) Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, Hillary...

HORSLEY: In a tree-lined park near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Obama said he wants Clinton to build on what he sees as the progress of the last eight years, the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the ongoing economic recovery. Obama pointed to a new report from the Census Bureau today which showed the first real increase in median household income since the start of the Great Recession.

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OBAMA: Last year, across every age, every race in America, incomes rose, and the poverty rate fell.

HORSLEY: Obama quickly added, there's more work to do. Many of his signature accomplishments could be reversed if a Republican wins the White House. So he's especially motivated to help Clinton follow in his footsteps.

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OBAMA: This is not me going through the motions here. I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton.

HORSLEY: The Clinton campaign is counting on Obama to help rally young voters. College student Kyle Richmond-Crossett came to the rally, along with a group of classmates from Swarthmore.

KYLE RICHMOND-CROSSETT: I really was enthusiastic for President Obama and less so for Hillary Clinton. But I'll kind of do anything to stop Trump from being elected.

HORSLEY: Obama can also help Clinton by boosting African-American turnout. Pollster and political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College says that was one of the keys to Obama's own victories in Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2012, when he ran up huge margins in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.

TERRY MADONNA: Turnout, turnout, turnout mattered, sending the president to Philadelphian urban areas, where he's very, very popular. It's far more than a gesture for him to help gin up the turnout.

HORSLEY: Three weeks ago, Madonna's poll showed Clinton leading Donald Trump in Pennsylvania by seven points. But since then, he says her lead here has shrunk, just as it has around the country.

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OBAMA: Do you mind if I just vent for a second?

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HORSLEY: Obama complained today about what he calls frivolous media coverage, which has focused in recent days on how the Clinton campaign was slow to reveal her pneumonia diagnosis, as well as Clinton's comment at a Friday fundraiser that half of Trump supporters are deplorable.

Obama argues Trump makes comments on a daily basis that would've disqualified previous candidates. He complains the news media largely glosses over those because the shock value's been dulled by sheer volume.

Despite the third-degree Clinton's now getting from reporters and unforced errors of her own, Obama insists she'll bounce back. He learned about her resilience during their bitter primary battle eight years ago and later, when he asked Clinton to serve as his secretary of state.

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OBAMA: No matter how many times people knock her down and mess with her, she does not quit. She doesn't quit.

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OBAMA: She doesn't quit. That's the Hillary that I know.

HORSLEY: The president is expected to headline about a dozen of these campaign rallies for Clinton between now and November. First lady Michelle Obama will also be helping out, starting with a Clinton rally in Virginia on Friday. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.