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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – President Barack Obama vigorously vouched for Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness and dedication Tuesday, making his first outing on the campaign stump for his former secretary of state just hours after his FBI director blasted her handling of classified material.
Shirt sleeves rolled up in campaign form, Obama declared, “I’m ready to pass the baton.”
“I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton,” he said. “I have had a front-row seat to her judgment and her commitment.”
The energetic Obama-Clinton appearance in North Carolina was a show of Democratic unity in a state Clinton is hoping to put back in the party’s column. But the moment wasn’t what her campaign and the White House imagined during the long primary season.
Shortly before the president and his would-be successor flew to Charlotte together, FBI Director James Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton for her email practices but only after he presented a searing description of her “extremely careless” handling of classified information that ensured the matter won’t be going away.
The White House declined to comment on Comey’s findings, saying the investigation was not formally closed and it did not want to appear to be influencing prosecutors. Still, the timing of the trip pulled the president into a controversy he has at times tried to keep at arm’s length. His appearance with Clinton was a reminder that it was his appointee who declined to pursue criminal charges.
Yet Clinton and Obama did not veer from their display of lockstep unity. The duo flew to Charlotte together on Air Force One, and they rode to the rally together in Obama’s armored limousine, known as “The Beast.”(AP)