Former US president Barack Obama has lashed his successor Donald Trump saying he is not interested in helping anyone but himself.
In a headline speech on the third night of the Democratic National Convention ahead of the November election, Mr Obama eschewed his usual refrained demeanour and lambasted the realty TV star turned president for being incapable of doing the job properly.
“For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground, no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends,” Mr Obama said.
“No interest in anything other than treating the presidency as another reality TV show for him to get the attention he craves.
“Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't. And the consequences of that failure are severe – 170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone, our worst impulses unleashed.”
Mr Obama lamented what he called the “badly diminished” reputation of the United States on the global stage and the constant threat to democratic institutions at home.
“This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down” for its own advancement, he said.
The former president sought to assure voters that Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his VP pick Kamala Harris have a plan to make a “better, fairer, stronger country” and finally get the raging coronavirus pandemic under control.
“Joe and Kamala will restore our standing int the world. And as we’ve seen in this pandemic – that matters.
“We need to rely on fact and science ... not just make stuff up,” he said, before lamenting the “lies and conspiracies” that have become central to the country’s hyper-partisan politics with Donald Trump in the White House.
Ahead of the address, Democratic fundraiser and consultant Scott Dworkin signalled that the knives were coming out with just over two months until the election.
“Obama’s speech tonight will be the most damning against a sitting president ever,” he tweeted.
Internet reacts to ‘historic’ speech
During the speech, president Trump was tweeting fiery denouncements of Mr Obama while social media reacted to the address, with some labelling it “historic”.
In stark contrast to the two candidates vying for the 2020 election, Mr Obama is well known for his skills as an orator, and many online praised his speech in support of his former Vice President.
US correspondent for the ABC, David Lipson, was among those who claimed the speech would go down in history.
“The more I think about this, the more I think it was a truly historic speech. I know that word gets thrown around a lot but it was something for the ages,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Washington correspondent for The Australian newspaper, Cameron Stewart, agreed.
“This is the most remarkable political speech of 2020,” he said.
This speech by Obama is going to keep Trump awake all night— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) August 20, 2020
Make no mistake folks - that was a historic speech by Obama saying our democracy is literally at risk in this election. Put down whatever you are doing for the next 76 days to fight for our country!— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 20, 2020
Trump will never forget President Obama’s speech tonight— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) August 20, 2020
Barack Obama just delivered the finest convention speech in modern history (again). Spell-binding, chilling, optimistic, beautifully written, and expertly delivered. Incredible moment.— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) August 20, 2020
Barack Obama’s Convention speech was magnificent. A speech for the ages. If you missed it tonight, you’ll just have to find a way to listen to it. It’ll inspire you and empower you. Trust me on that.— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 20, 2020
.@BarackObama DNC speech is an unprecedented takedown of a President by predecessor, even more remarkable because until the John Lewis funeral, Obama avoided responding to @realDonaldTrump attacks on him and his legacy. No more. He believes the future of democracy is at stake— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) August 20, 2020
Kamala Harris: ‘I know a predator when I see one’
As is customary at conventions, top Democrats extolled the virtues of their party’s candidate while laying the boot into the opposition’s candidate.
In an earlier address Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who also ran for president, called the current situation in America “a dark chapter in our nation’s history.”
Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of a “disrespect for facts, for working families and for women in particular,” a disrespect she said she has “seen first-hand.”
Due to a general lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden in the broader electorate, Democrats will be relying on a strong anti-Trump turnout among voters if they are to take back the White House – and it was a constant theme throughout the night.
In officially accepting the VP nomination on Wednesday, Kamala Harris referenced the president, saying “I know a predator when I see one.”
Democrats take aim at voting ‘obstacles and misinformation’
Ms Harris kicked off the third night of the virtual Democratic National Convention by saying viewers may have heard “about obstacles and misinformation, and folks making it harder for you to cast your ballot.”
“I think we need to ask ourselves why don’t they want us to vote,” Mr Harris said. “When we vote, things get better. When we vote, we address the need for all people to be treated with dignity and respect in our country.”
She did not say what those possible obstacles were, but Democrats have accused President Donald Trump of deliberately trying to disrupt operations at the Postal Service in a year when more people are expected to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Trump himself has publicly admitted to the ploy.
Pictures of US Postal Service mail sorting machines being decommissioned have been shared widely online this week, furthering concerns about the Trump administration intentionally trying to suppress the vote.
“All of the mail sorting machines and blue mailboxes that have been removed must be replaced, overtime for postal workers must be restored, and the Postmaster General must be removed from office. Trump's attack on the Postal Service cannot stand,” Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted this morning.
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