Obama: Clinton most qualified to be next US president

US president tells Democratic convention party’s nominee has experience and skills for the “demands of the Oval Office”.

There has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as the next US president.

That was the message US President Barack Obama had for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Delivering the keynote speech at the convention, which elected Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee on Tuesday , Obama said he had “come to admire” Clinton as someone who never quits, no matter “how much people try to knock her down.

“I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

He described Clinton as a person who listens, keeps her cool and treats everybody with respect.

“Hillary has real plans to address the concerns she’s heard from you on the campaign trail,” Obama said. “She’s got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help workers share in their company’s profits, to help put kids in preschool, and put students through college without taking on a [tonne] of debt. That’s what leaders do.”

Demands of Oval Office

As a politician and former secretary of state, Clinton had been part of the biggest decisions facing the US, Obama said, noting that “nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office”.

“You can read about it. You can study it. But until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war,” Obama said.

“But Hillary’s been in the room; she’s been part of those decisions.”

Obama’s speech anchored a night of celebrity speakers, not only from the Democratic Party but also from the worlds of business and entertainment, who spoke in support of Clinton.

US Vice President Joe Biden was one of several speakers to take aim at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, branding him an opportunist who had no clue about how to make America great.

Biden took Trump to task for his trademark reality TV slogan: “You’re fired”.

“Think about that,” Biden said, calling the billionaire businessman’s “cynicism” unbounded.

“How can there be pleasure in ‘You’re fired’?”

“He has no clue about what makes America great. Actually, he has no clue – period.”

Trump ‘unfit to be elected’

Biden said Trump was unfit to be elected to the White House on November 8.

“The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain, to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States,” he said.

Hollywood actress Sigourney Weaver said: “Hillary Clinton, she gets it. She cares. She is committed.”

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords,  who survived being shot in the head during an assassination attempt, received a standing ovation at the convention, telling the audience that she was looking forward to saying two words: “Madam President”.

“In the White House she will stand up to the gun lobby. That is why I am voting for Hillary,” Giffords said.

Obama also hit an optimistic tone on the direction the country is taking, saying the “America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity”.

And while there are real anxieties about racial divisions, jobs and healthcare, Obama said that his travels around the country had shown him “more than anything, is what is right with America”.

Delegates cheer as Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention [Justin Lane/EPA]
Delegates cheer as Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention [Justin Lane/EPA]

Obama’s image of the US contrasts starkly with the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s dystopian view of contemporary America as a place where security threats abound and law and order has broken down.

Grabbing the spotlight at a news conference in Miami earlier in the day, Trump urged Russia to find and release tens of thousands of emails that Clinton did not hand over to US officials as part of a probe into her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

Clinton’s campaign quickly responded to Trump’s statement, calling it the “first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against a political opponent.

“This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue,” Clinton’s campaign said in a statement.

‘Sided with Russia’

Leon Panetta, former CIA director and defence secretary, told the convention that Trump had sided with Russia by asking for their services in hacking Clinton’s emails, which should be enough to disqualify him from ever becoming commander-in-chief.

“It’s inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be this irresponsible,” he said.

In his speech to the convention, businessman and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said people needed to unite to defeat Trump, who he called a “dangerous demagogue.

“I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one,” Bloomberg said of Trump.

“The richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”

The Clinton campaign has sought to portray Trump, who has no experience in public office, as temperamentally unfit for the White House.

They have contrasted Clinton’s long experience and foreign policy skills with Trump’s maverick position on international relations, which Clinton campaign chair John Podesta has described as “unsteady, unfit and dangerous”.

Trump has proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country and building a wall on the border with Mexico to stop illegal immigrants.

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from the convention, said the Democratic Party was able “to pivot” and attack Trump on his request for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails.

“But at the same time, Donald Trump is also benefiting from this,” she said.

“Once again he’s stolen the show. We are talking about Donald Trump again. And when we are talking about Donald Trump we are not talking about the Democratic convention.

“The Democrats just can’t seem to win … they want to be talking about issues. They want to distance themselves from the Republican convention of a week ago and show how they are different. The problems is this email controversy, that seems to cloud Clinton’s campaign, just won’t go away.”

The convention will end with Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination [Andrew Gombert/EPA]
The convention will end with Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination [Andrew Gombert/EPA]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies