Obama, on final campaign day: Trump ‘temperamentally unfit’

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, New York Times News Service

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — President Barack Obama warned Monday that Donald Trump would accept the support of white supremacists if he won the White House, calling the Republican nominee “temperamentally unfit” to lead the country as he sharpened his message to start a daylong, election-eve push for Hillary Clinton.

“If you accept the support of Klan sympathizers, if they say they really like what you’re doing, and you’re kind of slow to denounce or separate yourself from them, that’s what you’re going to do when you’re in office,” Obama told more than 9,000 supporters at an outdoor rally at the University of Michigan, referring to the Ku Klux Klan during the first of three stops he was making for Clinton.

“Whatever credibility I’ve earned after eight years as president, I am asking you to trust me on this one,” Obama said, confiding that he was “feeling a little sentimental” on a day that would be his last on the campaign trail.

“I already voted,” he added. “I voted for Hillary Clinton because I am absolutely confident that when she is president, this country will be in good hands — and I’m asking you to do the same.”

A dense fog that had hung over Ann Arbor burned off to give way to a clear and unseasonably warm autumn day by the time Obama took the stage in the center of a baseball field here, introduced by Chelsea Clinton, Clinton’s daughter.

She rhapsodized about Obama’s “remarkable legacy,” and when the president took the stage, he made the case that it was up to voters to safeguard it.

“I love you!” an ecstatic supporter screamed.

“I love you back — I do,” Obama said, interrupting his 25-minute speech to acknowledge the cheers. “But tomorrow, you will choose whether we continue this journey of progress or whether it all goes out the window.”

President Barack Obama greets attendees at a campaign event he and Chelsea Clinton spoke at on behalf of Hillary Clinton, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 7, 2016. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

Obama was here to lift Clinton in Michigan, a state she lost to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, where working-class voters, particularly African-Americans, are a powerful force.

Obama’s appearance had the distinct feel of a valedictory. The president soaked in the cheers of the crowd and indulged in some gloating at his critics, using his favorite slogans — “Don’t boo – vote!"— and inciting chants of “Yes we can!”

“I think I’ve earned some credibility here,” Obama said tartly, as he recounted his efforts to pull U.S. automakers from the brink of bankruptcy when he took office. “Plants that were closing when I took office are working double shifts now,” he said.

“Manufacturing jobs have grown at the fastest rate since the ‘90s, when another Clinton was president,” he added. “I think we’ve earned some credibility here.”

In a sprint reminiscent of his own days as a presidential candidate, Obama planned to appear later Monday in Durham, New Hampshire, and then to end the day with an evening rally in Philadelphia, where he was to be joined by Michelle Obama, Clinton and her family.

The final tour is taking him to three states he won in both 2008 and 2012, states that are crucial bulwarks for Clinton. All three are also places where it is more difficult for Democrats to turn out their core supporters because they do not offer the option of early voting.

He urged Michigan voters not to be “bamboozled” by Trump’s assertion that he would help working people. “In his 70 years on earth, the Donald has never showed any regard for working folks,” Obama said.

But his sharpest condemnation of the Republican candidate was more fundamental.

“Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief,” Obama said. “Think about this: Over the weekend, his campaign took away his Twitter account. Now, if your closest advisers don’t trust you to tweet, then how can we trust him with the nuclear codes?”