Washington: In her June 2008 concession speech for the Democratic US presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton pledged to do all she could to propel Barack Obama to the White House. On Tuesday he returns the favour.
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 in what is likely to be the first of many trips to urge voters to pick his one-time rival as 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 joint appearance planned for soon after that was postponed after the mass shooting on June 12 at a gay nightclub 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 the Nov. 8 election.
But Clinton`s trip with Obama, on the presidential plane Air Force One, could be overshadowed by FBI Director James Comey`s announcement on Tuesday that the agency will not recommend she face charges over her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state.
Clinton`s campaign welcomed the end of a probe that has cast a cloud over her campaign, but Republicans seized on Comey`s criticism of what he termed Clinton`s "extremely careless" handling of emails. Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, who was also due to campaign in North Carolina on Tuesday, said of the FBI recommendation, "As usual, bad judgment."
Obama`s first campaign appearance with the former first lady will close a circle on a relationship that started cordially when the two were colleagues in the US Senate, grew tense when they were rivals in the 2008 race, and became close when Clinton was secretary of state during Obama`s first term.
Clinton and her family have played a role in Obama`s elections. Clinton and Obama appeared together in Unity, New Hampshire, following their divisive primary fight in 2008, and Clinton`s husband, former President Bill Clinton, gave a well-received speech at the 2012 Democratic convention.
Obama has focused on what he touts as Clinton`s strength of character, in hopes of shoring up support among voters who find her untrustworthy, a weakness Trump has sought to exploit.
Clinton needs Obama to woo young and left-leaning voters who backed Sanders and who made up part of the president`s voting coalition in 2008 and 2012. Clinton has also campaigned with high-profile liberal U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and she will appear later this week with Vice President Joe Biden.