On Wednesday, ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News both played up President Obama's planned speech to the Democratic National Convention as a key moment to promote Hillary Clinton. ABC's Cecilia Vega underlined Obama's "urgent goal: to make the case" for Mrs. Clinton, and touted the President as "her most powerful ally." NBC's Andrea Mitchell counted the chief executive as one of "Clinton's heaviest hitters" and spotlighted his "most critical moment" at the convention. Kristen Welker contended that "there is...no more critical speech than the one he'll deliver tonight...This time, his legacy is also on the line." [video below]
Vega first cited how "the White House calls [the speech] — quote, 'the biggest moment he has left.'" She continued with her "urgent" label about the President's speech, and summarized the past history between the two Democrats: "From bitter adversaries on the campaign trail, to close partners in the White House — now, the President her most powerful ally."
On NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt trumpeted that "President Obama, Vice President Biden, and vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine take the stage behind me, on a night of high-wattage star power, to make the case for Hillary Clinton." Mitchell picked up where he left off by pointing that "Hillary Clinton's heaviest hitters and tonight's headliners are blasting [Donald Trump] as unfit to be the commander-in-chief." She continued with soundbites from the President, Vice President Biden, and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine all slamming Trump.
Mitchell later quickly touched on "Kaine's big debut in prime time," before hyping "the most critical moment, when the commander-in-chief takes the stage.... it's President Obama's job to persuade a skeptical public at home that Hillary Clinton can be trusted." Unlike Vega, the correspondent did disclose "a new complication to their sales pitch on trust — a stumble over the sticky trade issue, the holy grail to Bernie Sanders supporters. When asked if Clinton would flip-flop on her opposition to the TPP trade deal, Clinton pal, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, said, 'Yes. Listen, she was in support of it.'"
Welker's report closed out the NBC evening newscast. She first spotlighted Mr. Obama's past speeches to Democratic conventions as "poignant memories for a president now poised to leave office." She quickly added that "there is, perhaps, no more critical speech than the one he'll deliver tonight for Hillary Clinton. This time, his legacy is also on the line."
CBS Evening News only briefly previewed the President's address at the end of a segment from correspondent Nancy Cordes: "President Obama will offer his own testimonial here tonight; and, according to excerpts of the speech that have just been released, he will say — quote, 'Even in the middle of crisis,' his former secretary of state 'listens to people and keeps her cool and treats everybody with respect.' He will also say, Scott, that Clinton never gives up."
The transcripts of Cecilia Vega's reports from ABC's World News Tonight, along with Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker's reports from NBC Nightly News — all of which aired on July 27, 2016:
06:35 pm EDT
ABC — World News Tonight
DAVID MUIR: Meantime, this evening, we have just learned some of what President Obama plans to say about Hillary Clinton just a short time from now. And ABC's Cecilia Vega is right down on the floor with that part of the story tonight.
[ABC News Graphic: "Big Night; Obama: Clinton 'Torchbearer' For Party"]
CECILIA VEGA (voice-over): Tonight, President Obama preparing to take the stage for what the White House calls — quote, 'the biggest moment he has left.'
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What's happening tonight? Oh, that was a joke. You look so serious. Feel great.
VEGA: Obama arrives in Philadelphia with one urgent goal: to make the case for Hillary Clinton. It is his turn to return the favor. In 2008, Clinton, in defeat, on that convention stage — urging her supporters to vote for him.
HILLARY CLINTON (from speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention): Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president. (audience cheers and applauds)
VEGA: From bitter adversaries on the campaign trail, to close partners in the White House — now, the President her most powerful ally.
OBAMA (from Hillary Clinton campaign event): There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton — ever. (audience cheers and applauds)
VEGA: Senior White House officials telling ABC News the President will make clear tonight that she is — quote, the torchbearer for the Democratic Party;' and yes, expect some hard knocks on Donald Trump. And he is already decrying the attacks on Clinton.
OBAMA (from interview on NBC's Today): As somebody who — you know, has had my share of — you know, getting wacked in the public eye, I'm — I'm surprised by it sometimes; and I — I don't think it is fair.
VEGA: Obama, of course, not the only president in Clinton's corner.
BILL CLINTON (from speech at 2016 Democratic National Convention): In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.
VEGA: Bill Clinton lashing out at her Republican opponents.
B. CLINTON: A real change-maker represents a real threat. (audience cheers and applauds) So, your only — your only option is to create a cartoon — a cartoon alternative; then, run against the cartoon.
VEGA: Tonight, Hillary Clinton herself one step closer to celebrating this historic moment.
MUIR (live): And Cecilia Vega joining us down from a very boisterous, excited crowd there on the convention floor tonight. And Cecilia, Bill Clinton, last night, never mentioned Donald Trump by name; nor did Michelle Obama on night number one. But you've learned tonight that President Obama will this evening?
VEGA: David, we're told that unlike those other prime-time speakers, the President will go there; and he will mention Donald Trump's name repeatedly. One source just now telling me that when it comes to Donald Trump, the President will lay out what's at stake in this election.
07:04 pm EDT
NBC Nightly News
LESTER HOLT: And Trump may have grabbed the headlines from Democrats today, but they'll try to make him pay for it here tonight — his Russia comment offering new lines of attack, as President Obama, Vice President Biden, and vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine take the stage behind me, on a night of high-wattage star power, to make the case for Hillary Clinton — NBC News getting a preview of what they'll say.
Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
[NBC News Graphic: "In Her Defense; Obama, Biden, Kaine Bring DNC Star Power"]
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Russia—
ANDREA MITCHELL (voice-over): Donald's Trump's latest bombshell landing at the Democratic National Convention, just as Hillary Clinton's heaviest hitters and tonight's headliners are blasting him as unfit to be the commander-in-chief. The President with Savannah Guthrie.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from interview on NBC's Today): Set aside the nuclear codes — what I think is scary is a president who doesn't know their stuff, and doesn't seem to have an interest in learning (laughs) what they don't know.
MITCHELL: The Vice President on 'Morning Joe.'
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Donald Trump knows nothing about foreign power.
MITCHELL: And Clinton's running mate.
SEN. TIM KAINE, (D), VIRGINIA: Donald Trump is a one-man wrecking crew.
MITCHELL: The fiery reaction to Trump tonight from Democrats.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL, (D), NEW YORK: Yeah — well, that borders on treason!
MITCHELL: Clinton's aides believe this latest firestorm, while distracting, helps make their case.
BRIAN FALLON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Donald Trump, who is seeking to become our commander-in-chief, is now openly inviting Russia to engage in cyber attacks against the United States. This is a bridge too far.
MITCHELL: Tonight, it's Tim Kaine's big debut in prime time; but the most critical moment, when the commander-in-chief takes the stage.
MITCHELL (on-camera): After two days, the campaign believes they've unified the party here in the hall. Now, it's President Obama's job to persuade a skeptical public at home that Hillary Clinton can be trusted.
MITCHELL (voice-over): Last night, with Bill Clinton, it was all personal—
BILL CLINTON (from speech at 2016 Democratic National Convention): In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.
MITCHELL: Trying to portray Hillary Clinton, the ultimate Washington insider, as a candidate of change.
B. CLINTON: She's the best darned change-maker I ever met in my entire life. (audience cheers)
MITCHELL: The biggest change of all: her historic role as the first woman to shatter the ultimate political glass ceiling.
But tonight, a new complication to their sales pitch on trust — a stumble over the sticky trade issue, the holy grail to Bernie Sanders supporters. When asked if Clinton would flip-flop on her opposition to the TPP trade deal, Clinton pal, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, said, 'Yes. Listen, she was in support of it.'
MITCHELL (on-camera): They think you're sending a signal—
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE, (D), VIRGINIA: I'm not sending—
MITCHELL: That Hillary Clinton will compromise away her commitments if she's elected—
MCAULIFFE: There are things in the agreement she does not agree with. Unless she can get those to the point that she's happy with, she's not going to support it — plain and simple.
MITCHELL (live): One thing to watch for tonight is how is Tim Kaine received in this big hall in his first debut — with many progressives arguing that he is simply too conservative on key issues.
07:26 pm EDT
NBC Nightly News
LESTER HOLT: And finally, tonight is a night about making the case for Hillary Clinton; but it's also about coming full circle — for President Obama trying to cement his legacy. Twelve years ago tonight, it was, that he first addressed the Democratic convention back in 2004 — electrifying the party and causing many pundits to predict correctly, it turned out, that he would be president some day. What few could predict is that it would happen just four years later.
Here's NBC's Kristen Welker.
[NBC News Graphic: "Obama Defends Legacy At DNC Tonight"]
KRISTEN WELKER (voice-over): It was 12 years ago to the day that a 42-year-old Senate candidate stole the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), ILLINOIS (from speech at 2004 Democratic National Convention): There is not a black America and a white America; a Latino America, an Asian America. There is the United States of America.
WELKER: Poignant memories for a president now poised to leave office — telling Savannah Guthrie.
OBAMA (from interview on NBC's Today): I can't believe I got elected to anything at that point. I looked like I just got out of college.
OBAMA: Out of many, one.
WELKER: He's electrified the party faithful—
OBAMA (from speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention): America, we cannot turn back.
WELKER: At every convention since.
OBAMA (from speech at 2012 Democratic National Convention): We are moving forward, America.
WELKER: But there is, perhaps, no more critical speech than the one he'll deliver tonight for Hillary Clinton. This time, his legacy is also on the line.
DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: So, all the things he's fought for — more economic opportunity, more fairness, more tolerance in America, a smart cooperative foreign policy — all these things are at stake.
WELKER: Within his first year in office, he sparked controversy reversing a number of George W. Bush's policies; and now, Donald Trump is vowing to do the same on immigration and ObamaCare.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ObamaCare is a disaster. People are dying with it.
WELKER: But it's also personal — Trump one of the original backers of the birther movement.
TRUMP (from April 2011 interview on NBC's Today): He doesn't have a birth certificate — or he hasn't shown it.
WELKER: The President turning that into a punchline.
OBAMA (from 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner): No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing?
WELKER: Tonight, Mr. Obama won't be the first member of his family to take on Trump from this convention stage.
MICHELLE OBAMA (from speech at 2016 Democratic National Convention): Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country isn't great.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (on-camera, from interview on NBC's Today): The pressure is on!
B. OBAMA: You know what? I'm not going to hit that bar.
WELKER (voice-over): As he tries to pass the torch of his presidency to another candidate who has also made history. Kristen Welker, NBC News, Philadelphia.