POLITICS

DNC: Obama says illegal immigration is lowest in decades, Trump just selling fear

President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.

President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Standing before thousands of die-hard, cheering Democrats, President Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention last night that Hillary Clinton is an ideal successor to carry forward the hopes and aspirations that once rallied millions to his side.

"Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me," he said.

While Obama gushed over his former rival and possible successor, his own credentials to make that argument seemed weakened by the long list of goals he tried unsuccessfully to fulfill.

Among them, immigration reform.

"It can be frustrating, this business of democracy. Trust me, I know," Obama said. "Hillary knows, too."

Obama said a Hillary Clinton administration would continue fighting for a lawful and orderly immigration system.

“Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists,” he said.

Obama painted an optimistic picture of the country that contrasted sharply with the "deeply pessimistic vision" of America presented at last week's GOP convention.

In an implicit attack on Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, Obama said traditional American values such as modesty, honesty and kindness continue today and that "anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end."

“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill’," he said. “Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix. It doesn't matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they've been in decades, because he's not offering any real solutions to those issues. He's just offering slogans, and he's offering fear.”

"By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started," Obama said. "And through every victory and every setback, I've insisted that change is never easy, and never quick — that we wouldn't meet all of our challenges in one term, or one presidency or even in one lifetime."

Just 19 percent of Americans said the country is heading in the right direction in an AP-GfK poll this month, a significant drop from the 39 percent who felt that way a year and a half earlier. Almost 4 in 5 voters feel the country is moving in the wrong direction this month, compared to 3 in 5 in early 2015.

Yet like it or not, Obama's legacy is now Clinton's. His former secretary of state, Clinton has embraced Obama's record and most of his policies as her own.

And her legacy is his. Should Clinton lose and Trump follow through on his promises, much of what Obama built as president could be unraveled.

With only a few months left in office, Obama is now taking stock of what the Democratic Party looks like after his two terms.

Obama's party is better positioned than ever before to appeal to minority and women voters who increasingly drive the outcome of U.S. elections, an advantage Democrats put on display this week by highlighting black, Hispanic, female and LGBT Democrats at the convention.

On the other hand, his party's argument to white men who still make up 1 in 3 voters in presidential elections appears to have gotten muddled along the way, a trend that polls show has deepened on his watch. Vice President Joe Biden said this week that Democrats have done the right thing for them, but added, "The Democratic Party overall hasn't spoken enough to those voters."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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