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Philadelphia • America is still a shining example for the world, and not the crime-ridden, poverty-stricken country that Republican nominee Donald Trump described, President Barack Obama said Wednesday in urging his party to unite behind his one-time rival Hillary Clinton.
Obama, who had bested Clinton eight years ago in a bitter battle for the Democratic nomination, used soaring, hope-filled rhetoric to say there was only one candidate in the race who believes in a bright American future and is devoted to it.
Only one candidate who is "a mother and grandmother who'd do anything to help our children thrive; a leader with real plans to break down barriers, blast through glass ceilings and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton," Obama said.
The moment of the first black president introducing the first female nominee from a major party and potentially the first female president was not lost on Obama. He praised Clinton's calmness in the face of crisis and resilience in the face of trials.
"That's the Hillary I know. That's the Hillary I've come to admire," Obama said. "And that's why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America," Obama said.
The commander in chief said he didn't know what country Trump was referring to when last week he described a morose and grim America while fanning "resentment, and blame, and anger and hate."
"The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity," Obama said. "The America I know is decent and generous."
Yes, there are challenges, the president acknowledged anxiety over bills, racial divisions, pockets of economic stagnation but charged that America does not back down when tested.
"As I've traveled this country, through all 50 states; as I've rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I've also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America," Obama said. "I see people working hard and starting businesses; people teaching kids and serving our country. I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, unconstrained by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be."
Obama split his time between taking a victory lap on his presidential accomplishments, lauding Clinton's voluminous credentials and experience and denouncing Trump's "deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other" and the world.
During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last week, Trump had rattled off a litany of American woes "poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad" and labeled Clinton's legacy as "death, destruction and weakness."
Obama fought back tweaking Trump on his signature line.
"America is already great. America is already strong," Obama said. "And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump."
Shortly before Obama spoke those words, Trump tweeted, "Our country does not feel 'great already' to the millions of wonderful people living in poverty, violence and despair."
The president made a veiled reference to the Republican nominee in noting that while America has changed, it has not lost its shared values.
"That's why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end," Obama said.
For Obama, it was political payback to offer a solid, unity-seeking speech at Clinton's convention. She did the same for him eight years ago after the two had been locked in a heated contest for the Democratic nod.
"Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose," she said at his convention in Denver. "We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines."
Clinton embraced Obama on stage at the end of the third day of the Democratic National Convention and they held hands as delegates in the Wells Fargo Center jumped to their feet.
Obama's headlining speech followed a stream of supporters extolling Clinton's virtues and blasting Trump including Michael Bloomberg, an independent who had weighed his own presidential bid but now firmly backs the Democratic nominee.
Bloomberg, who said he wasn't a Democrat, thinks it is clear the country must elect Clinton.
"There are times when I disagree with Hillary," Bloomberg said. "But whatever our disagreements may be, I've come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue."
Bloomberg called Trump a "risky, reckless and radical choice."
Earlier former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a one-time Democratic presidential candidate, said that Trump feeds off a "deep and dangerous anger."
"I say to hell with Trump's American nightmare," O'Malley said. "We believe in the American dream."