Election 2017

Maybe Obama’s last visit as president: ‘I’ve got incredible memories of Philly’

The president talked about Carson Wentz and the Rocky Steps.

President Obama speaks in front of the Art Museum while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia.

President Obama speaks in front of the Art Museum while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia.

Kaylee Tornay/Billy Penn

Joe Biden was apparently bragging to Barack Obama about Carson Wentz and the Eagles. He told him to get on the “Wentz wagon.” That’s what Obama said, anyway, as he began a Hillary Clinton campaign speech to a crowd of hundreds at Eakins Oval, noting the Eagles are playing against his team, the Chicago Bears, this week.

I gotta stick with my team,” he said, “but I am going to go to Philly and scout out what all the fuss is about.”

For good measure, Obama threw in a reference to the nearby Rocky Steps later, while discussing his loss to Clinton in Pennsylvania in 2008: “Every time I thought I had that race won, it was like going up the Rocky Steps. I looked back and she’s there.” His speech resembled the one he gave here at the Democratic National Convention in July. Obama spoke of optimism for the country, unlike the “crime scene” vision he says Trump has been describing. He again called Clinton the most-qualified candidate for president in history. And he told everyone to vote as they started booing Donald Trump.

Don’t boo,” he said, again. “Vote. Booing is easy.”

Obama has been to Philly several times since he first ran for president in 2008, and the city has embraced him like no other president. In 2008, an impromptu parade broke out in the streets when he was elected. In 2012, 59 divisions voted unanimously for him over Mitt Romney.

Obama has appeared in West Philly, at the Mayfair Diner, at Temple, at Independence Mall, at the Wells Fargo Center for the DNC. This time, near the Art Museum?

“This is going to be one of my last visits to Philly as president,” he said. “I’ve got incredible memories of Philly.”

The crowd showed its love back with a “thank you” chant in the middle of his speech. Some of them wore Obama-themed gear, from hats and shirts to…dashikis. Marian Wade and Pam Tolbert said their outfits were a variation of the dashiki that had been made in Ghana.

Obama Dashiki
Mark Dent/Billy Penn

Each of them went to Washington for Obama’s inauguration in 2008 and 2012. Neither Wade nor Tolbert, who live in North Philly, want to think his presidency is winding down and possibly his visits to Philadelphia.

“Well,” Wade said, “I hope he comes back one more time.”

During his speech, Obama told the crowd to save the praise for later.

“I’m not gone yet,” he said. “So save the thank you’s. I’m not finished yet. I’ve got a few more months.”

Bob Brady’s sick burns and McGinty’s

Philly’s longtime U.S. congressman and Democratic City Committee chair Bob Brady riled up the crowd before Obama arrived in the way he usually does: by yelling into the microphone. First he started acting like a football coach, calling out every segment of the crowd to get ready for a cheer that repeated the Clinton campaign motto “Stronger together.”

“Stronger,” he yelled.

“Together,” the crowd answered.

Brady led that cheer about four times. Then he started yelling Hillary’s name over and over.

That wasn’t it for Brady, though. He decided to go in against Donald Trump with two jokes:

“(Trump) was born on third base, and he thinks he hit a triple.”


“He’s got no room for a silver spoon in his mouth because his foot’s always in his mouth.”

U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty took the stage as amped as Brady. She continued to batter her opponent Pat Toomey and associate him with Trump. She associated herself and her opportunity to become Pennsylvania’s first female senator with Clinton.

“Would you join me in a two-for-one,” McGinty asked the crowd, “and shatter the Senate glass ceiling as well?”

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