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In Ohio, Obama Tries To Energize His Winning Coalition For Clinton


It has been exactly one week since an 11-year-old "Access Hollywood" videotape of Donald Trump upended the presidential race and sparked a national conversation about unwanted sexual advances. We're going to hear about where things stand today from several angles, including how the GOP is grappling with the fallout.


But first we have a report from a key battleground state. President Obama is on a campaign blitz for Hillary Clinton. Three days this week he was out on the road trying to energize the coalition of voters that won him the White House. NPR's Asma Khalid reports from Cleveland, Ohio.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: President Obama was welcomed with shouts of, we love you, and, four more years. Cleveland after all is Democratic turf. And when some folks booed Donald Trump, Obama pulled out his classic campaign line.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Don't boo. What do I say?


OBAMA: Don't boo. Vote.

KHALID: Obama is making a direct plea to millennials and African-Americans. Here in Ohio, about 80 percent of voters in 2012 were white. Obama did not win a majority of them but still managed to win the state because he did phenomenally well among people of color. Democrats need those voters to show up on Election Day. And Obama said Trump is trying to drag the election as low as it can go.


OBAMA: And he figures that if he makes our politics just toxic, then maybe you'll just figure out, you've got no good choices, and you just get discouraged, and you just don't vote. But don't fall for it.

KHALID: Ohio is also home to a large white, working-class population. And Obama made a pitch for them, too. He said Trump has no record of helping working people. He spent all his time trying to convince folks he was a, quote, "global elite."


OBAMA: All he had time for was celebrities, and now suddenly he's acting like he's a populist out there. Man, I'm going to fight for working people. Come on, man.

KHALID: Obama is trying to fight apathy and deliver his 2012 winning coalition over to Clinton. But this election is also personal for him, an effort to maintain his legacy.


OBAMA: Donald Trump's closing argument is, what do you have to lose? The answer is everything. All the progress we've made right now is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot.

KHALID: And this kind of messaging, when Obama ties himself to Clinton, works. Alicia Warren was in the crowd sporting an Obama jacket she bought at the 2012 inauguration.

ALICIA WARREN: I want to vote for Hillary because I believe in her. I believe in Obama, and I love Michelle Obama.

KHALID: Warren is totally committed to Clinton, but there are voters like Tiffany Battle. She says she doesn't agree with everything Clinton's done. Battle was here with her 8-year-old daughter who's only lived under an Obama presidency. And for her, Obama's blessings are helpful.

TIFFANY BATTLE: It has influenced by feelings toward her.

KHALID: Battle is a reluctant Clinton voter, but the president's endorsement makes her feel more comfortable with her choice.

BATTLE: The person that I've witnessed over the past eight years would not just slap his name on somebody as an endorsement, you know, just because he doesn't like whoever. You know, I think he really thought about it, and they've been working closely together. So I'm hoping that it pans out.

KHALID: And that is why Obama is on this campaign blitz - to convince voters who trust him that they should trust her. Asma Khalid, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.

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