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In her June 2008 concession speech for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton pledged to do all she could to propel Barack Obama to the White House. On Tuesday he returns the favor.

After months of waiting on the sidelines while his former secretary of state battled Senator Bernie Sanders to be this year’s Democratic nominee, the president hits the campaign trail on Tuesday in what is likely to be the first of many trips to urge voters to make his one-time rival his successor.

Obama endorsed Clinton last month with a forceful video in which he stated that no one had been so qualified for the job. But a planned joint appearance shortly thereafter was postponed after the shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida.

“I have seen her judgment, I’ve seen her toughness, I’ve seen her commitment to our values up close,” the president said in the video. “I’m with her. I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.”

He starts in North Carolina, a state the president won in the 2008 general election but lost narrowly in 2012. Clinton wants to reclaim it for Democrats in 2016.

Obama‘s first campaign appearance with the former first lady will close a circle of sorts on a relationship that started cordially as colleagues in the U.S. Senate, grew tense as rivals in the 2008 race, and became close as partners in the Obama administration when she served as his top diplomat.

“(He) has developed a deep appreciation for her toughness under fire and her commitment to a set of values that the president shares… Those values are principally the reason the president believes that she is the best person to succeed him,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday.

Obama‘s focus on Clinton’s strength of character is meant to shore up support among voters who find her untrustworthy, a weakness that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has sought to exploit.

Clinton also needs Obama to woo young and left-leaning voters who backed Sanders and made up part of the president’s voting coalition in 2008 and 2012.

The president, meanwhile, needs a Clinton victory on Nov. 8 to preserve his legacy on a range of issues including healthcare, climate change, and immigration.

The North Carolina trip is reminiscent of a joint appearance Obama and Clinton made in Unity, New Hampshire, following their divisive primary fight in 2008.

Now Clinton is the candidate and the president, who leaves office in January, is her advocate.

 

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walk back to the Oval Office after a statement following the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and others, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, September 12.2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.