Obama was preceded by a 10-minute clip that spanned his 8 years in office. He came on stage to U2’s City of Blinding Lights.
After referencing his first address at a Democratic convention in Boston 12 years ago, Obama said, “While this nation has been tested by war and it’s been tested by recession and all manner of challenges, I stand before you again tonight after almost two terms as your president to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.”
Fairly early on, Obama framed his speech saying, “We Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican party and there’s nothing wrong with that.” He added, “But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision.” The rest of the speech continually came back to the contrasting themes of hope and pessimism.
Obama spent about 10 minutes praising Hillary’s character and work ethic concluding that Hillary was prepared for the job of president. “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.” This line brought a big round of applause, including from Bill Clinton:
About 20 minutes into the speech Obama mentioned Donald Trump by name. This brought a chorus of boos to which Obama replied, “Don’t boo, vote.”
“The Donald is not really a plans guy,” Obama said. “He’s not really a facts guy either,” he added. “He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say I know plenty of business men and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated.
“Does anyone really believe that a guy who has spent his 70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to your champion, your voice? If so, you should vote for him.”
“America is already great; America is already strong and I promise you our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump,” Obama said. He went on to say Trump was, “betting that if he scares enough people he might score just enough votes to win this election.” Obama then suggested that Trump would fail because Americans, “don’t look to be ruled.” “America has never been about what one person can do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together,” Obama said.
A bit later in the speech, Obama acknowledged that Clinton had mad mistakes but said, “That’s what happens when we try. That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described, not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines but someone who is actually in the arena.” “Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena,” Obama said.
The final minutes of the speech were devoted to Obama discussing the values he grew up with which he said were universal values. “America has changed over the years, but these values that my grandparents taught me, they haven’t gone anywhere,” Obama said. He then offered stories about people who had written him during his time in office, people who Obama said exemplified America’s ideals.
Obama closed the speech saying, “Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope, America you’ve vindicated that hope these past 8 years.” After it was over Hillary Clinton walked on stage and embraced Obama: