U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk down the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, in a June 29, 2016. (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)It so happens that two of his most prolonged diatribes against Donald Trump in the pre-campaign phase came during joint news conferences where he was standing next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — last week's was the latest. During events in Parliament, Obama set up contrasts that match the message of Clinton's campaign. Her latest TV ads highlight her lengthy record in public service, dating back to early advocacy for children and against segregated housing. In what Obama himself later described as a rant, he said their mutual nemesis didn't even merit being called a populist because he lacked any demonstrable history of actually caring about anyone but himself.
'That's not the measure of populism'
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. on June 18, 2016. (Photo: David Becker/Reuters)He didn't refer specifically to the candidate running on the slogan of "Make America Great Again." He was more explicit the previous time he shared a podium with Trudeau. At the White House in March, a reporter asked about conservatives blaming him for the rise of Trump. Launching into a lengthy reply, Obama called that a bit rich, given how Trump initially became a conservative star: "I don't think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate. I don't remember saying, 'Hey, why don't you ask me about that?' or 'Why don't you question whether I'm American, or whether I'm loyal?'" Now, apparently, it's payback time.
Obama more popular than Clinton, Trump
'No downside' for ClintonBut Ayres said there are drawbacks too. He said Obama's presence risks turning off Trump-skeptical Republicans and independents — the kind of persuadable voters who could support Clinton, but shudder at the idea of a third Obama term. An expert on African-American voting patterns says, on balance, Obama is unquestionably an asset. "There's no downside in this for Hillary," David Bositis said. "The fact of the matter is Obama is more personally popular than any national politician right now. If you can attach yourself to someone who's more popular that's always a plus."
What about the TPP?He identified one small risk: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Obama is its highest-profile champion and the more visible he becomes, the greater the possibility it could cause a rift with the legions of young progressives who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders. One analyst of swing states said he can be deployed in places — and in roles — where he's obviously helpful. "She will use him in critical swing states to rally hardcore Democrats and people of colour," said David Schultz, a Hamline University professor and author of, "Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter." "He will be used for fundraising, criticizing Trump, and for trying to motivate the party base to vote for her. She is trying to channel his popularity to substitute for her lack of it."
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