"I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton, and I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America," President Obama said at the rally in Charlotte, North Carolina

By Tierney McAfee
Updated December 05, 2016 05:29 PM
Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

President Obama hit the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday, marking his first time stumping for the former secretary of state.

The president and his potential successor touched down in Charlotte Tuesday afternoon, exiting Air Force One together and fielding a few questions from reporters. Asked whether the FBI’s earlier announcement that it would not recommend criminal charges in its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server would overshadow her rally, the president replied, “Hardly.”

Obama and Clinton then headed to the campaign event, taking the stage together for what can easily be described as a lovefest between the two politicians – with cheeky references to their bitter rivalry in the 2008 election.

Clinton began, “I’ve known the president in many roles – as a colleague in the Senate, as an opponent in a hard-fought primary and as the president I was so proud to serve as secretary of state. But I’ve also known him as the friend that I was honored to stand with in the good times and the hard times.”

“He’s someone who has never forgotten where he came from – and Donald, if you’re out there tweeting, it’s Hawaii,” she added, referencing Donald Trump‘s “birther” crusade against Obama in 2011.

Obama, perched on a stool beside Clinton as she spoke from his “blue goose” – the armored presidential lectern adorned with the presidential seal – chuckled as she recalled some of their “memorable experiences together.”

Clinton spoke of storming a secret meeting of foreign leaders at a climate change summit. “You should have seen the Chinese guards try to stop us. They put their arms up – and the president went right through,” Clinton said as Obama nodded, laughing. “It’s true,” he said.

“They put their arms up,” Clinton continued, “and I went right under.”

Clinton also praised Obama for saving the country from a second Great Depression, saying he doesn’t get “the credit he deserves” and adding, “As we went from political rivals to partners to friends, my esteem for him just kept growing.”

Touting the president’s accomplishments in office and vowing to continue his legacy, Clinton pledged to increase the federal minimum wage, make college debt-free for all, crack down on companies that ship jobs overseas, make sure that “Wall Street, corporations and the super rich” pay their fair share of taxes (“And by the way, we’re going to keep asking to see Donald Trump’s tax returns,” she added), and fight for equal pay, affordable child care and family leave. Her words prompted cheers and chants of “Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!” from the crowd.

“We need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Clinton said before later turning the mic over to the president.

Obama led the crowd in another “Hill-a-ry!” chant and even threw in a “Fired up! Ready to go!” – the famous and wildly successful slogan he used during his 2008 campaign.

“I’m fired up!” Obama told Clinton supporters in Charlotte, where he accepted the nomination in 2012. “Hillary got me fired up!”

“I’m here for a simple reason,” Obama continued. “I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton, and I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America.”

Praising Clinton as a “smart” and “prepared” debater who “beat” him many times throughout the primary, Obama declared her the most “qualified” presidential candidate in history.

“Everybody’s got an opinion, but nobody actually knows the job until you’re sitting behind the desk,” Obama said before taking his own swipe at Trump: “Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk.”

“I mean, Sasha tweets,” he added of his younger daughter, “but she doesn’t think that she thereby should be sitting behind the desk.”

“But I can tell you this: Hillary Clinton has been tested,” Obama continued. “She has seen, up close, what’s involved in making those decisions. She has participated in the meetings in which those decisions have been made. She’s seen the consequences of things working well, and things not working well. And there has never been any man – or woman – more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton. Ever.”

Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump: ‘We Were Not Friends’

Trump is also campaigning in the Tarheel State Tuesday. He will hold an evening rally in Raleigh, where he will likely respond to Obama and Clinton’s joint appearance.

In an email statement earlier on Tuesday, he said, “It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time.”

“Folks – the system is rigged. The normal punishment, in this case, would include losing authority to handle classified information, and that too disqualifies Hillary Clinton from being President.”