Fri. 2:05 p.m.: Obama campaigns for Clinton in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — Rolling his eyes at the Republican nominee, President Barack Obama mocked Donald Trump’s purported business acumen and newfound rage against the “global elite,” as he rallied today for Democrat Hillary Clinton. He warned that democracy itself was at risk if Trump wins.

As the presidential election draws to a close, Obama has increasingly embraced his role as troll-in-chief to the former reality star who hopes to succeed him in the Oval Office. With his own popularity having rebounded, Obama has become one of Trump’s chief antagonists making the claim that Trump’s exaggerated boasts aren’t to be believed.

He used a rally for Clinton in battleground Ohio to try to debunk Trump’s charge a day before that Clinton was at the center of a global conspiracy by wealthy elites and political big-wigs to rig the system against working people. Obama encouraged voters to judge candidates by “what they’ve been doing their whole lives.”

“This is a guy who spent all his time hanging around, trying to convince everybody he was a global elite … and flying around everywhere and all he had time for was celebrities,” Obama said. “Suddenly he’s going to be the champion of working people?”

“Come on, man,” Obama said with a sardonic laugh, in what became a recurrent refrain of his campaign speech.

In a cutting jab at Trump’s business acumen, the president invoked the gambling adage that “the house always wins.”

“Unless he owns the house,” Obama said of Trump, his voice dripping with contempt. “Then it loses a billion dollars.”

Trump, who formerly had a casino empire in Atlantic City, reported losing more than $900 million in 1995 in tax returns that were recently leaked. He’s since acknowledged using those losses and accounting measures to avoid paying federal incomes taxes for years.

Obama’s final-stretch push for Clinton has coincided with growing concerns among both parties that the intense toxicity of this year’s campaign could pose long-term problems for American democracy, as citizens lose faith in the well-being of their political system. In his most direct terms yet, Obama echoed those concerns.

“Democracy itself is on the ballot right now,” he said.

COMMENTS