The Obamas level with voters who aren’t wild about Clinton – Politico

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Barack Obama said it is his legacy that will be on the line this November. | Getty

In pitching the case for Clinton, the Obamas and Joe Biden tell voters that being anti-Trump should drive them to the polls.

09/28/16 05:22 PM EDT

Updated 09/28/16 05:48 PM EDT

The Obamas and Joe Biden are warning voters that they must turn out on Election Day to stop Donald Trump – even if they don’t like Hillary Clinton all that much.

While the three top surrogates are heaping praise on Clinton, they are also leveling with voters — especially young and minority voters — who are not as fired up about the former secretary of state as they were about the Obamas in 2008, or Bernie Sanders earlier this year.

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“The notion somehow that, ‘Well, you know, I’m not as inspired because Barack and Michelle, they’re not on the ballot this time, and, you know, maybe we kinda take it easy’ — my legacy’s on the ballot,” Obama said on Wednesday morning on the “Steve Harvey Morning Show.” “You know, all the work we’ve done over the last eight years is on the ballot.”

Michelle Obama, speaking at a rally in Philadelphia, also swiped at the idea that Clinton is viewed by many as a less-than-inspiring candidate, despite her hefty foreign and domestic policy credentials.

“Remember it’s not about voting for the perfect candidate. There is no such person,” the hugely popular first lady said. “In this election it is about making a choice between two very different candidates with very different visions for our nation. So the question is do you want Hillary Clinton to be your president, or do you want her opponent to be your president?”

And just the day before, Biden delivered almost the same talking point.

“I know [students] are not overjoyed about the choices,” Biden said, also in Philadelphia. “I know they think that Hillary didn’t do A, B, C or D, I know, but, my Lord. My Lord. What are we going to do?”

The Clinton campaign is increasingly relying on these emissaries from the White House to crank up the voter turnout in November by pressuring voters to protect the president’s legacy by backing Clinton.

Clinton’s team is especially wary of young voters flocking to third-party candidates — or not voting — as a way of expressing their displeasure with both her and Trump. It’s why Clinton has started more explicitly appealing to them — including in her Wednesday New Hampshire appearance with Bernie Sanders — and why she’s pushed to offer a more affirmative message, as opposed to an anti-Trump one, in recent days.

But she’s also relied heavily on her highest-profile surrogates to make the case. Obama, Biden, and the first lady are all barnstorming the battleground states for Clinton, and each is likely to have a pumped-up travel schedule in the coming weeks.

Their travel is largely focused on areas in the four core swing states — Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio — where Clinton needs to over-perform to defeat Trump. That includes big cities, like Philadelphia, and areas with large African-American or Hispanic populations. Democrats expect to see them pop up more in Charlotte, Raleigh, Tampa, Orlando, Cleveland, and Columbus, in particular.

In her remarks Tuesday at Philadelphia’s La Salle University, Michelle Obama took issue with voters who say they don’t feel inspired by the former secretary of state, telling the crowd that “I’m inspired by her experience, by her consistency, by her heart and by her guts.”

She worked to reassure voters skeptical that their ballots might not make a difference, telling the college crowd that voters under 30 made up the margin of victory for her husband’s 2012 reelection campaign in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Breaking down the electoral math even further, the first lady told the crowd that the president had won Pennsylvania by just 17 votes per precinct, a margin tight enough, she said, that any young person in the crowd could help sway the election by bringing friends and family members to the polls.

But she also warned them that casting a protest vote for a third-party candidate, or opting to stay home on election day all together, could also be enough to swing the election in favor of Trump.

“Here’s the truth: Either Hillary Clinton or her opponent will be elected president this year. And if you vote for someone other than Hillary, or if you don’t vote at all, then you are helping to elect Hillary’s opponent. And the stakes are far too high to take that chance,” she told the crowd.

One day earlier and about eight miles further south, Biden delivered his own fiery message to millennial voters at Philadelphia’s Drexel University. Attacking Trump over his performance at Monday night’s presidential debate, the vice president raised his voice almost to the level of outrage as he decried the Manhattan billionaire’s decision to brag about his ability to avoid paying taxes and make financial hay out of the 2007 housing market collapse.

But Biden’s voice quieted as he acknowledged that some young voters have been slow, or outright refused, to come around to supporting Clinton after a Democratic primary race against Sanders that split the party’s young and old voters. Compared to Trump though, Biden told the crowd, “I tell you what, if this choice isn’t clear, I don’t know, my Lord.”

He also said that the former secretary of state is more in lock-step with millennial voters than they might think. On issues like marriage equality, LGBT rights, abortion rights and reducing the cost of higher education, the vice president said Clinton’s priorities are the same as those of the young voters she has struggled to court.

The president himself made the case against a third-party vote Wednesday morning in his interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, telling the comedian host that “if you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump” and “if you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.” Mirroring the talking points that other Clinton surrogates, including the first lady and the vice president, Obama made the case for his secretary of state and against the Manhattan billionaire, who he labeled as “unqualified” for the office of president.

Seemingly speaking to voters who feel less enthusiastic about Clinton than they did about his presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, Obama said it is his legacy that will be on the line this November.

“If we’re gonna protect everything that we’ve achieved and keep moving forward then we need Hillary Clinton to win, and I don’t want anybody staying home thinking this is any less important than it was in ’08 or 2012,” he continued. “If you do not vote, you’re voting for Trump. And if you vote, then you’re voting — even if I’m not on the ballot — you’re voting for the work that all of us have done together, making sure that’s locked in, making sure that’s sustained.”

Gabriel Debenedetti contributed to this report.

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