- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

President Obama and former Vice President Al Gore hit the campaign trail Tuesday in key swing states, urging voters to reject Republican Donald Trump — but the president’s rally was derailed several times by protesters wearing t-shirts and carrying signs proclaiming, “Bill Clinton is a rapist.”

The interruptions, presumably by Trump supporters, temporarily took Mr. Obama off message as he was forced to address the hecklers.

“Oh no!” Mr. Obama said as the crowd of nearly 8,000 in Greensboro, N.C., erupted in jeers and catcalls directed at the protesters.

“This is the great thing about politics in America,” the president said finally. “It takes all kinds. Folks will just do all kinds of stuff. Those are folks who are auditioning for a reality show. I’m just trying to make a simple point here.”

The campaign trail incident came two days after Mr. Trump launched a prolonged assault on Mr. Clinton’s sexual history during Sunday night’s debate. Redirecting attention onto the former president is the Trump campaign’s strategy after an 11-year-old audio recording surfaced last week of him bragging about his ability to grope women because of his celebrity status.

Mr. Obama ridiculed GOP officials who have denounced Mr. Trump’s lewd comments but haven’t withdraw their endorsements of the Republican nominee.

“I too believe in forgiveness and redemption. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to elect the person president,” Mr. Obama said. “You can’t have it both ways. We saw this coming. He’s been saying really bad stuff for a while now. What did you think — he was going to transform himself? I’m [age] 55, I know it’s hard to change. I know at 70 it’s harder.”

He urged supporters to vote for Mrs. Clinton, telling voters to “turn back the forces of racism and misogyny.”

Of the comments by Mr. Trump that angered many women, the president said, “You don’t have to be husband or a father to hear what we heard just a few days ago and say, ‘That’s not right.’ You just have to be a decent human being.”

In Miami, Florida, a joint rally with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gore was much tamer. The former vice president told voters that Mrs. Clinton is the only candidate in the race who will fight climate change, warning that Mr. Trump would cause a “climate catastrophe” if elected in November.

In his first and likely only appearance on the campaign trail this election cycle, Mr. Gore called himself “exhibit A” in the argument that every single vote counts. The former Tennessee senator, now a high-profile climate change activist, lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush after coming up 527 votes short in Florida.

“Your vote really, really, really counts. A lot. You can consider me exhibit A of that truth,” he told a Miami crowd. “Elections have consequences. Your vote counts. Your vote has consequences … If you are on the fence about whether to vote, remember what is at stake in this election. And if you think your vote does not matter, take it from me: Your vote can make all of the difference in this election.”

Mr. Gore linked his every-vote-counts pitch to climate change, praising Mrs. Clinton for her plan to reduce dependence on oil, natural gas, and coal, and speed up investment in solar panels and wind energy. Mr. Gore said the proposal is “right at the limit of what we can do” and is an appropriately ambitious climate agenda.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has said he opposes the landmark Paris climate deal, has voiced strong support for coal, and has taken other positions deeply problematic for climate activists such as Mr. Gore.

“Her opponent, based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe,” the former vice president said. “The question in this election … is which of these candidates is going to continue the progress and actually increase the rate of progress? With Hillary Clinton, we’ll build on the progress made under President Obama.”

In introducing Mr. Gore, Mrs. Clinton praised his work on climate change and vowed to seek his advice on environmental policy if elected president.

“We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House, at all. That is absolutely unacceptable. We need a president who believes in science and who has a plan to lead America inf acing this threat, and creating good jobs, and yes, saving our planet,” she said.

While Mr. Gore isn’t expected to return to the campaign trail, Mr. Obama will continue stumping for Democrats. He’ll speak at a get-out-the-vote rally in Cleveland on Friday, two days after early voting begins in the Buckeye State.

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