CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AFP) - Barack Obama delivered a forceful plea Tuesday (July 5) for Hillary Clinton to succeed him as president, praising the character of his former secretary of state whose horizon brightened after the FBI recommended no charges be filed over her email scandal.
Obama, returning to a swing state that helped elect him in 2008, laid out a passionate, compelling case declaring he is “ready to pass the baton” to Clinton and urging voters to make her the nation’s first female commander in chief.
“I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton,” Obama told a fired-up crowd at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, pumping his fist and leading chants of “Hillary! Hillary!”
“There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office. Ever!”
Clinton and Obama flew together to North Carolina aboard Air Force One for the first in a series of high-profile rallies that the candidate hopes will energise voters – particularly minorities who remain enamored with the outgoing president, in crucial battleground states where the November election will be decided.
Neither made any mention of the FBI’s bombshell decision to recommend that Justice Department prosecutors file no criminal charges in the Clinton email investigation.
"Let me tell you, North Carolina, my faith in Hillary Clinton has always been rewarded," the President said in a vibrant speech in support of the former first lady.
"I have had a front-row seat to her judgment and her toughness and her commitment to diplomacy."
"She is and will be a stateswoman who makes us proud around the world," Mr Obama said.
"I am ready to pass the baton. And I know that she is going to take it."
Appealing to working American families, the President assailed the presumptive Republican nominee Trump for his "phony bluster" and warned, repeatedly: "The other side's got nothing to offer you."
The FBI's announcement that it would not press charges against Mrs Clinton takes a weight off the 68-year-old , whose campaign has been dogged by the scandal.
But the FBI's assessment, which found that Mrs Clinton was "extremely careless" in sending classified information via her personal e-mail account, is far from the complete exoneration she had hoped for.