When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came to Toronto

In the span of 24 hours, Clinton and Obama delivered speeches to paying crowds in Toronto. Here's how the two events compared.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 27: US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton acknowledge the crowd on the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    In the space of 24 hours, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both spoke to sell-out crowds in Toronto. Their messaging dovetailed in multiple places—the need to fight for democracy and to become politically engaged—but also diverged in others.

    How the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama speeches compared

    The scene

    CLINTON 7 pm to 8 pm on Sept 28 at Enercare Centre (Exhibition Place) The crowd: 5,500; diverse, mostly female The second stop on Clinton’s 15-city book tour for her memoir What Happened; her other stops in Canada will be in Montreal and Vancouver. Warm-up music: keyboard player and male tenor singing “Sway”
    OBAMA Noon to 1:30 pm on Sept 29 at the Toronto Convention Centre The crowd: 3,000; diverse, dominated by men in suits Event sponsored by Ottawa-based Canada 2020, “Canada’s leading independent progressive think tank.”  Politicos in the crowd: Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto mayor John Tory, Cabinet ministers Bill Morneau and Navdeep Bains. Warm-up music: DJ spinning Oasis’s “Wonderwall,” SonReal’s “Problems,” The Commodores' “She’s a Brickhouse”
    READ: Explaining the Democrats’ strange hold on Canadians

    Ticket prices and perks

    CLINTON $89 for “silver” seating; $149 “gold” seating; $229 for VIP seating (includes copy of book) to $3,000 “VIP Platinum” (two front row seats; signed copy of book; meet-and greet with Clinton)
    OBAMA $244 for white wristband “festival seating” (first row arrived at 9 am); access to a concession stand; $1,000 for individual table seating (red wristband) with served lunch (chicken); table of 10: $10,000


    CLINTON Bag check; guides lead audience member to seats
    OBAMA Metal detectors; no carry-ons larger than a piece of paper allowed in hall; no one allowed to leave and return


    CLINTON Introduction by Caroline Codsi, founder and president of Women in Governance; Clinton spoke for 15 minutes followed by a 45-minute Q&A with Codsi.
    OBAMA Susan Smith, Canada 2020 co-founder, introduced Dani Reiss, CEO of Canada Goose (an event “gold” sponsor) who introduced Obama to strains of  Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed and Delivered.” Obama spoke for half an hour, followed by Q&A with Bruce Heyman, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, now a Canada 2020 strategic adviser.

    Crowd response

    CLINTON Constant cheering throughout with cries of “We love you!” References to Trump met with boos; Clinton’s reference to Chardonnay “helping” her post election won laughter as did her comment about using yoga calming techniques: “Alternate nostril breathing really works.”
    OBAMA Standing ovations and cheers. Clapping was heard whenever Canada was praised: “Canada, I think you guys are doing great!” The best line of the afternoon: “I’m an old-fashioned guy. I believe in the Enlightenment, and reason, and logic, and you know, facts.”


    CLINTON “I want a concerned world to recognize that democracy is under assault. This is not a one-off event.”…“We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason.” More women must to run for political office: “The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics; Clinton warned of “blowback” to women’s progress under Trump : “We have to keep talking about this … some of the treatment women receive is not about one woman, it’s more general.” Throughout the event Clinton aired grievances over the actions of  former FBI director James Comey (“This whole matter is yet to be fully understood”) and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (“a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian government). She also noted that the world “doesn’t like an angry woman.”
    OBAMA Began with “In many ways it is best of times, it is the worst of times,” before noting tensions, including unprecedented prosperity amid global automation and the weakening position of workers; of unprecedented technological connectivity stoking hate and creating “bubbles." "In the U.S., if you watch Fox News and your neighbour reads the New York Times, your worlds do not meet,” “Democracy is hard and progress is fragile. Those of us who believe in democracy need to speak out.” He referred to himself as a “congenital optimist,” noting he thought the Paris Climate Accord would be “okay” He  called for engagement: "The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice—but it doesn't do it on its own. We have to do it. … The cure for what ails democracy is more democracy, and more engaged citizens." Frequent reference to the next generation: “If you had to choose any moment in history to be born, I’d choose now.”
    RELATED: No, Hillary Clinton should not ‘Shut the F–k Up and Go Away’

    About Trump

    CLINTON Multiple jabs: “I think Trump doesn’t just like Putin he wants to be like Putin. He likes that macho performance… She won cheers for blasting Trump's treatment of women: "What I went through, what Trump did attacking other women—journalists, TV commentators, women in general, objectifying them—it was such an Exhibit A for sexism and misogyny. It was hard to accept that this man could be vying to be president, and of course ending up as president."
    OBAMA No direct references but plenty of allusions, such as references “to crude xenophobia” and his comment: “I don’t believe the future belongs to the strongman.” Later, he took a shot at Trump’s attempt to repeal Obamacare: "What, are we now on the 62nd vote to repeal something? He also signalled warnings about building walls and walking away from trade deals: “If leaders promote worst impulses rather than best, societies can turn on themselves.” He critiqued the “might makes right” approach, saying it can lead to catastrophe: the world could repeat the horrors of WWII, with “half the world on fire.” Obama called North Korea “a real problem, not just a result of current administration” and that diplomacy is required.

    CanCon bonding

    CLINTON Referred to going on a family vacation in Quebec last month and how it “reinforced my strong feeling that no two nations in the world are closer than Canada and the United States. We have the longest, peaceful border, and trade more than any two nations. She added: “I especially appreciate Canada’s commitment to an open and diverse society that welcomes immigrants.” She said: “I received more than a few invitations to permanently relocate to Canada. Thank you, but I’ll stay where I am and be part of the ongoing resistance.” Trudeau was also referenced, though not by name: “It’s good you have someone who is charismatic and compassionate leading your country." Later she praised Canada’s first gender equity cabinet.
    OBAMA “Me and Canada, we have this thing.” He reminded the audience that his brother-in-law is from Burlington, and that he made his first foreign trip as president to Canada. “It was February. I wasn’t happy with the weather, but the warmth of the people made up for it.” Obama praised  “Justin” repeatedly, mentioning how much fun he and “Michelle” had with “Justin and Sophie” in Washington: “Justin represents a wave of young leadership that believes in some pretty traditional values—in democracy, pluralism, rule of law—but are also trying to adapt those values in a dynamic and disruptive time. That’s the kind of creativity I hope we see in all governments and leaders.”

    Surprise question

    CLINTON None.
    OBAMA Hayman asked about the “OOT” phenomenon—voters who voted twice for Obama, voted for Trump. Obama deflected: “A lot of strange forces converged in this last election.” He avoided discussing Democrats or Clinton: “Progressives spend a lot of time getting policies right and not enough creating communities or structures to implement policy.” Politics is not that complicated, Obama said, noting Democrats need to get more voters to the polls:  “So between now and the next election, I want us to get more votes.”

    The future

    CLINTON Told the crowd to “Resist, Insist, Persist, Enlist.”  She’s working with her new organization, Onward Together. “There is a lot of great energy in the United States right now. I will be supporting candidates.”
    OBAMA “I'm devoting the rest of my life to promoting active citizenship in the U.S. and around the world.” The Obama Foundation is working to “create a hub or a university for social change.” He’s talking to Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook (a “silver” sponsor of the Toronto event) and young people to explore how to break down silos and “create space for a digital town square.” The foundation will stage its first big youth summit in Chicago in October. “I think a few Canadians are coming. We’re building this wave of hope.

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