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In Central Florida, Barack Obama says justice, fairness, environment, Civil Rights all on the ballot

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Making one last plea for Florida to support Democrat Hillary Clinton and validate his own legacy, President Barack Obama told a big, boisterous crowd in Kissimmee Sunday that democracy itself is on Tuesday’s ballot.

Obama made it clear that all Democratic Party priorities and his own legacy are to be judged in the election.

“You have proof that your vote matters. And I’m not going to be on the ballot this time. But everything we’ve done is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Fairness is on the ballot. Looking out for working people is on the ballot. Higher wages is on the ballot. Protecting the environment is on the ballot. Treating people fairly is on the ballot. Civil Rights is on the ballot,” Obama said. “Our democracy is on the ballot!”

Obama’s second speech in the greater Orlando area in nine days followed a 18-minute warm-up show by R&B legend Stevie Wonder, who energized the crowd by debuting a song he said he wrote Saturday night for Hillary Clinton, plus several of his biggest hits, including “Superstition” and “Sunshine of My Life.”

Obama’s motorcade did not arrive at Osceola Heritage Park Stadium until after Wonder left the stage, so he missed the show. But he met an excited crowd reported in the range of 11,000, filling most of the grandstands at the minor league baseball park, plus most of the infield.

While Obama spoke highly of Clinton and of Florida Democrat’s U.S. Senate nominee U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, he spent most of his 30-minute speech at least indirectly attacking Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“On the one hand you have someone who may be the most qualified person to ever run for the presidency. On the other hand, you’ve got The Donald,” Obama said. “There is a reason that so many Republicans,, so many conservatives,, have denounced Donald Trump,, even if sometimes they said, ‘well we’re going to vote for him anyway.’ That is because Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president, temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief.

“We cannot have a commander in chief who suggests it’s OK to torture people, or to ban entire religions from our country, or insults POWs, or attacks Gold Star moms, or talks down our troops,” Obama said.

Obama drew on a news report Sunday that Trump’s campaign had banned him from tweeting, for fear he might tweet something so outrageous in the last two days of the campaign that he could cost himself votes. So Obama ridiculed Trump for his apparent lack of self control.

“I just read, apparently his campaign has taken away his Twitter. In the last two days they had so little confidence in his self control, so they just said, ‘We’re going to take away your Twitter.’ Now, if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle a nuclear code.”

Otherwise, Obama’s speech was very similar to the one he delivered at the University of Central Florida on Oct. 29, showing a new-found confidence buoyed by his strong rise in public opinion polls, expressing pride in his accomplishments, and assuring the crowd that Clinton, and only Clinton, would carry them forward.

Only now Obama expressed a greater sense of urgency, considering that Clinton’s solid-looking lead of late October has largely vanished in many polls, and Election Day is nearly here.

“Two days Florida. Two days to decide the future of this country,” Obama said. “And I need you to go vote. I need your help to help finish what we started eight years ago.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]

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