GREENSBORO, N.C. — President Obama eviscerated Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency during a raucous rally here for the Hillary Clinton campaign, shrugging off several interruptions from anti-Clinton hecklers as he sought to rally voters in a crucial swing state.
Obama seemed to revel in his ridicule of the Republican nominee, mocking Trump for his loss of nearly $1 billion, his refusal to release his tax returns and his lewd comments about women.
“The guy says stuff nobody would find tolerable if they were applying for a job at 7-Eleven,” Obama said during a lengthy speech to a crowd of 7,700 at an outdoor amphitheater. “I also know a lot of casino operators who managed not to lose $1 billion in a year. They say the house always wins. I don’t know what happened.”
Of the 2005 "Access Hollywood" video of Trump making lewd remarks about women that was disclosed last week, Obama said: "You don't have to be a husband or father to say, 'That's not right.' You just have to be a decent human being."
On Air Force One en route to North Carolina, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama believed that what Trump said he did to women on the video amounted to sexual assault. The president found Trump's remarks "repugnant," Earnest said.
The president has called Trump unfit for the White House several times before, but his remarks here are part of a stepped-up offensive from the president with less than a month left until the Nov. 8 elections and Trump sliding in the polls.
Obama was interrupted three times from anti-Clinton hecklers, including two wearing shirts calling former president Bill Clinton a rapist and one who tore up a Clinton-Kaine sign, as the crowd booed. Security escorted the hecklers out.
Obama took the interruptions in stride. “This is democracy at work. This is great!” he said. Then, recycling a rallying cry from his 2012 reelection campaign, Obama implored the crowd: “Don’t boo — vote!”
North Carolina is considered a crucial battleground, and the speech here marked Obama’s second appearance in the state for the Clinton campaign. Obama won the state in 2008, the first time a Democrat carried North Carolina in the general election in a generation, but he narrowly lost here to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.
The president, who had participated in a town hall-style event with ESPN at North Carolina A&T State University before the rally, has targeted his coalition of minorities, women and younger voters. As he did during remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus last month, Obama said his legacy was on the line and challenged the crowd to get out to the polls.
“You have everything to lose,” he said. “All the progress we’ve made in the past eight years is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot, equality is on the ballot, democracy is on the ballot. If you want to send a message in this election … turn back the forces of racism and misogyny.”
Obama denounced Trump for saying during a debate with Clinton on Sunday that he would put her in jail over her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state, and for minimizing Russia’s alleged role in the hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee.
“You threaten to put your political opponent in jail — no trial, no indictment, no lawyers,” Obama said. “When you welcome Russian meddling in our electoral process, you’re disregarding not just facts or evidence or a free press, you’re chipping away at basic values like tolerance and due process and mutual respect. Our democracy doesn’t work that way.”
Although a number of Republican members of Congress have pulled their endorsements of Trump since the 2005 "Access Hollywood" video was disclosed last week, Obama noted that several prominent GOP officials have still not done so.
“They can’t bring themselves to say, ‘I can’t endorse this guy,’” Obama said. Of those who did pull their endorsement, the president added: “Why’d it take so long for some of them to finally walk away? We saw this coming.”