President Barack Obama returned to North Carolina Wednesday more insistent than ever the state’s college students and African-Americans cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, telling them “the fate of the republic rests on your shoulders.”
But on his third campaign stop in the state since July, he also appealed to Republicans, saying certain standards transcend party politics.
“I want to speak not just to Democrats. I want to speak to Republicans here in North Carolina as well. I am obviously a partisan Democrat. I understand that,” Obama said. “But we’re not Democrats or Republicans first, we’re Americans first, and there’s a standard of behavior that we ought to expect of our leaders.”
Obama told a crowd of more than 16,000 people gathered on a sticky afternoon on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill he wanted to talk “bidness,” framing the contest between Clinton and Donald Trump using his most urgent language to date.
“All the progress we hope to make over the next eight years, all of that goes out of the window if we don’t win this election. And we don’t win this election, potentially, if we don’t win North Carolina,” Obama said. “So I hate to put a little pressure on you, but the fate of the republic rests on your shoulders. The fate of the world is teetering and you, North Carolina, are going to have to make sure that we push it in the right direction.”
Obama hopes to turn North Carolina for Clinton using his sway among the state’s key voting blocs, including college-educated whites and African-Americans. He won there in 2008 but lost to Mitt Romney in 2012, both by slim margins. A CNN poll of polls in North Carolina shows Clinton edging Trump 46%-42%.
Obama returns to North Carolina on Friday for rallies in Fayetteville and Charlotte, hoping to convince the same voters who went for him in 2008 to back Clinton this time.
He cast the race in historic terms on Wednesday, telling the crowd not to pass up their chance to affect the country’s course.
“It’s not often that you can move the arc of history. Don’t let that chance slip away,” Obama said. “Young people here, it’s not often that you know your voice will have an impact. Don’t give away your power. Don’t fall for the easy cynicism that says my vote doesn’t matter. That’s what Hillary’s opponent wants you to think because they don’t want you to vote.”
He angrily lambasted Republicans who he said were attempting to suppress the African-American vote using restrictive laws. declaring the practice a dark vestige of America’s violent past.
“How are we going to betray folks that have worked so hard so that we can pull the lever and we’re not going to vote? What’s our excuse?” he asked.