Eight years after Hillary Clinton set aside bad blood and a deflated ego to stump for the man who defeated her in the Democratic primary, President Obama will return the favor Tuesday.
At a joint rally in Charlotte, N.C., the rivals turned partners will take the stage together in a bid to bring about Democratic unity and shore up support for one of the most unpopular major-party presumptive nominees in history.
To be sure, the event will include no small number of digs at the even more unpopular presumptive Republican nominee. But Democrats are hoping that the day will boost Clinton more than it hurts Trump, and are banking that Obama’s strong approval ratings will rub off on Clinton.
The joint event comes as White House officials have watched with frustration as Clinton’s campaign has almost singularly become about taking down Donald Trump, rather than making an affirmative case for Clinton.
“People want something to vote for,” said one White House official, repeating an old political saw. “The President is going to make the case for just that.”
In the parlance of senior Democrats, Obama will serve as a “validator” and “Convert in Chief” to the Clinton cause, building on the efforts of other party surrogates in recent weeks. The White House official said Obama would make the case that, as a onetime Clinton skeptic, he’s come to believe she is best qualified to run the country. Harkening back to the bitter days of the 2008 primary, Obama will recount how Clinton won him over. His message is expected to touch on her domestic agenda — largely a continuation on his own — and her record abroad in his Administration.