Former President Barack Obama made his 2020 campaign trail debut less than two weeks out from Election Day, stumping for his two-term vice president, Joe Biden, in Philadelphia with a speech more fiery and eloquent than anything the Democratic hopeful has mustered during his candidacy.
“We got 13 days. That’s our lucky number right here,” Obama told a crowd of honking motorists during a drive-in rally in the perennial swing state. “Thirteen days until the most important election of our lifetimes.
“What we do these next 13 days will matter for decades to come.”
Obama — who previously recorded an impassioned speech in the City of Brotherly Love that aired in support of Biden during the Democratic National Convention — alternated between shots at President Trump and votes of confidence for his former veep and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.
In a blistering attack, the 44th president accused his Oval Office successor of “treating the presidency like a reality show he can use to get attention.
“But the thing is, this is not a reality show,” he said. “This is reality.
“The rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously,” he continued, zeroing in on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “At least 220,000 Americans have died. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed. Millions of jobs are gone. Our proud reputation around the world is in tatters.”
By contrast, Biden is “not gonna screw up testing. He’s not gonna call scientists ‘idiots.’ He’s not gonna host a super-spreader event at the White House,” Obama said. “Joe will get this pandemic under control.”
In a light-hearted moment and sign of the times, Obama made a crack at the expense of his own famously large ears.
“You all look very good in your masks, by the way,” he said. “This actually accentuates how big my ears are, because it kind of pulls it forward. So they really look like I could just take off at any time.”
Pivoting from the pandemic, Obama also took a shot at Trump over a New York Times report that said the real-estate mogul only paid $750 in federal income tax during the year he assumed the presidency.
“My first job was at a Baskin-Robbins when I was 15 years old,” Obama said. “I think I might have paid more taxes that year.”
Obama didn’t just make cracks at Trump, also boosting Biden.
“We cannot afford four more years of this, Philadelphia,” he said. “But the good news is, right now you can choose change. Right now, you can vote for my friend, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, as the next president and vice president of the United States of America.
“Joe’s no stranger. He’s a native son,” he reminded the crowd. “Scrappy kid from Scranton. You know him. And you know he knows you.”
Obama recounted how when he tapped Biden in 2008 as his running mate, they didn’t know each other all that well.
“But I came to admire Joe as a man who has learned early on to treat everybody he meets with dignity and respect,” said Obama. “That empathy, that decency, that belief that everybody counts, that’s who Joe is. That’s who he’ll be.
“And I can tell you, the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”
He encouraged Biden boosters not to sit on what the polls indicate is a solid lead, urging them to remember Trump’s shocking upset over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“We’ve got to turn out like never before. We cannot leave any doubt in this election,” he said. “A whole bunch of people stayed at home [in 2016] and got lazy and complacent.
“Not this time. Not in this election.”
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