President Barack Obama delivered a forceful critique of Donald Trump and the news media while campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia on September 13, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama delivered a forceful critique of the 2016 presidential election Tuesday, excoriating Republican nominee Donald Trump and the media for grading him "on a curve."
Obama, speaking at a rally on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the crucial battleground of Pennsylvania, praised his onetime rival turned adviser.
"I believe there has never been a man or a woman more qualified to serve as our president," Obama said.
Clinton was not present at the rally, which was held in Philadelphia. She announced Sunday she would take several days off the campaign trail to recover after nearly fainting at a Sept. 11 memorial service in New York City. Her campaign subsequently announced Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, but she ignored doctor's orders to lay off her campaign schedule to rest.
And while Obama worked to fire up the crowd in Clinton's absence, his tone sharpened as he denounced Trump and the media for the state of a campaign defined by incendiary remarks more than policy proposals.
"I'm not running this time, but I sure do get frustrated with the way this campaign is covered. I'm just telling the truth," Obama said. Then he addressed the press corps directly: "Guys in the back, I'm just telling you the truth about this."
Obama then stopped, saying he was "frustrated." He asked the crowd if he could "just vent for a second."
Vent, he did.
"You don't grade the presidency on a curve. This is serious business," Obama said, his voice rising. "And when we see folks talking about transparency -- you want to debate transparency? You've got one candidate in this race who's released decades' worth of her tax returns. The other is the first in decades to refuse to release any at all. You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate's family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate's foundation took other people's money and spent it buying a 6-foot painting of himself. At least he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version."
Obama went on to question whether Trump's frequent presence in the media had fundamentally altered the terms of the national debate.
"Because we've become so partisan, our standards for what's normal have changed. Donald Trump says stuff every day that used to be considered as disqualifying as president, and yet because he says it over and over and over again, the press just gives up," Obama said. "The bottom line is, we cannot afford suddenly to treat this like a reality show. We cannot afford to act as if there's some equivalence here. To be president you have to do your homework and you have to know what you're talking about."