By Michael Sol Warren
BU News Service
President Barack Obama wants to party like it’s 2008.
In a rousing keynote speech to close out the third night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, President Obama used the same themes that propelled him into office eight years ago to rally support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Focusing on hope and optimism, President Obama emphasized his beliefs that it is the power of the American people that form the foundation of the United States.
The president used this imagery to stand in stark contrast to the more pessimistic rhetoric of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Indeed, the idea of collective power differs greatly from Trump’s acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention. That speech was noted for Trump’s repeated use of the phrase “I alone”.
President Obama’s final, and perhaps most powerful, show of support for Clinton came when the speech was over. The nominee joined the president on stage and the two embraced and waved to the crowd, a visual sign of President Obama’s confidence.
The throwbacks started as soon as President Obama stepped on stage, as chants of “Yes We Can” thundered through the Wells Fargo Center.
The president then used the opening section of his speech to list the accomplishments of his administration. In doing so, he attempted to frame his own legacy and setup Clinton as the only candidate able to continue his work.
“Yes, we’ve still got more work to do. We’re not done perfecting our union,” Obama said. “That work involves a big choice this November.”
After expounding on his own accomplishments, the president pivoted to the partisan rhetoric that has led Washington to gridlock.
“What we heard last week in Cleveland wasn’t Republican. And it sure wasn’t conservative,” President Obama said. “What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world.”
He spoke strongly against this vision, saying that America is already great and that that greatness is rooted in the nation’s diversity and values.
President Obama also spoke highly of Clinton’s experience and preparedness for the presidency.
“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,” Obama said.
The president immediately shifted from Clinton’s political experience to Trump’s lack thereof, creating another firm contrast between the two candidates. As President Obama listed Trump’s shortcomings, boos began to rain down from the crowd.
“Don’t boo. Vote,” President Obama said, breaking from his script to deliver the memorable ad-lib.
Keeping with a common theme of the convention, the president made sure to include praise for Bernie Sanders and his supporters in his speech.
“We all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have been,” President Obama said. “We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.”
President Obama ended his speech with one final callback, this one to his 2008 campaign theme: hope.
“America, you have vindicated that hope these past eight years,” President Obama said.
Obama was introduced by Sharon Belkofer, an Ohio mother of three veterans. Belkofer said the President inspired her to become active in local politics, and that he wrote her a handwritten congratulations when she won her first election.
“He’s never forgotten about this little old lady in Ohio who’s always had his back,” Belkofer said.