‘He has no clue, period’: Fractious Democrats seem to unite over attacks on Donald Trump

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. President Barack a forceful endorsement of Clinton , painting her as a successor uniquely qualified to carry on his legacy at home and abroad.

“There has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill (Clinton), more qualified than Hillary to serve as president of the United States,” Obama said in a speech at the Democratic National Convention that alternated between warning and joy.

“She never, ever quits,” he said. “That is the Hillary I know.”

In a night full of dark speeches — about Donald Trump and the future he might bring — Obama offered a bright vision of the country he leads. “The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity,” he said. “The America I know is decent and generous.”

But at the same time, Obama, addressing his party convention for the last time as president, took pointed aim at . He called this presidential election a “fundamental choice” about the direction of the country, one that would determine “whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.”

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesU.S. holds hands with Hillary Clinton during the of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Obama walked on stage on the third night of a fractious convention to thunderous applause. He had several tasks: to frame his legacy, to pass the baton and to make the stakes of this election clear.

He to channel at times the spirit of his first campaign, reaching for the optimism and the inspiration that pushed him from the senate, in his first term, to the White House.

He acknowledged the dark times and the challenges. He accepted that there was more work to be done. But he also praised what he said was “right with America.”

“I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together,” he said: “black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, young and old, gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.”

The tone seemed a strategic and marked contrast to the one Trump employed in Cleveland last week. In his acceptance speech, the described an America under siege, beset by terrorists and illegal immigrants, and struggling to stay afloat.

“He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election,” Obama said about that speech.

“That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose. Because he’s selling the American people short. We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared saviour promising that he alone can restore order. We don’t look to be ruled.”

Obama’s speech capped a night dominated by questions of national security and safety at home. The unifying theme was clear. Speaker after speaker argued that Trump was a danger to the country and the .

Vice-President Joe Biden called him the least qualified major party candidate in American history. “He has no clue about what makes America great,” Biden said. “Actually, he has no clue, period.”

At that point, the crowd in the packed arena in Philadelphia began to chant: “No clue! No clue! No clue!”

Biden’s speech seemed to briefly unify a crowd still split between Bernie Sanders loyalists and the party’s mainstream. Sanders holdouts once again occupied a media tent outside Wells Fargo Arena Wednesday to protest what they believe was a rigged nomination campaign. Inside the arena, occasional jeers and angry chants could be heard.

But the focus stayed mostly on Trump. His embrace of torture “betrays our values,” Biden said. “We simply cannot let that happen as Americans.”

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty ImagesFormer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg waves after speaking at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia.

Tim Kaine, nominee for vice-president, even mocked Trump’s voice. In a routine that came off like an uncle’s bad standup after too much light beer, he made fun of the Republican nominee’s habit of promising the moon by saying “believe me, believe me,” in a Trump-like twang.

The focus on Trump’s foreign policy also came on a day when the New Yorker seemed to invite Russian hackers to infiltrate Clinton’s emails and interfere in the American election process.

A host of speakers used that moment to skewer Trump with hastily written lines, portraying the Republican as erratic and near traitorous. “This morning, he personally invited Russia to hack us,” said ret. Rear Admiral John Hutson. “That’s not law and order. That’s .”

That’s not law and order. That’s criminal intent

Former CIA director Leon Panetta told a sometimes hostile crowd that the United States could not afford a president “who believes America should withdraw from the world, threatens our international treaties, and violates our moral principles.”

“We cannot afford an erratic finger on our nuclear weapons,” he said.

Hutson, a poor speaker, still delivered the most pointed line of the night. Channelling the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, he told Trump, who once belittled John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam, that he “wasn’t fit to polish John McCain’s boots.”

One-time presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, though, came the closest to attacking Trump on his own terms. He called the Republican nominee an “immigrant-bashing carnival barker” and a “bully racist.”

The focus on foreign affairs and terrorism followed an early evening heavy on liberal policy. Five years after she was nearly murdered in a mass shooting in Arizona, former Rep. Gabby Giffords appeared on stage to make an emotional plea for gun control.

She emerged to loud cheers, her body still bearing the signs of that 2011 attack. “Speaking is difficult for me,” she said. “But come January, I want to say these two words: Madame President.”

Giffords said Clinton “would stand up to the gun lobby,” echoing a parade of earlier speakers who had lost relatives to mass shootings in Orlando, Sandy Hook and elsewhere.

The party also played a short film about climate change directed by James Cameron, the creator of Avatar. Afterward, California Gov. Jerry Brown attacked Trump for denying the science behind global warming.

“Trump says global warming is a hoax. I say Donald Trump is a fraud,” he said.

After Obama finished his speech, Clinton herself made a surprise appearance on stage. She has enjoyed a host of talented and popular surrogates this week, including both Obamas and her husband Bill. But on Thursday, she’ll face the crowd herself, to make her final pitch, before the last, frantic months of this bizarre, dark campaign begin.

About Richard Warnica