Obama pushes 'combo meals' in Columbus, tacos and voting

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Story highlights

  • President Barack Obama rallied an Ohio crowd to vote for Hillary Clinton
  • He touted her qualifications over GOP rival Donald Trump

Columbus (CNN)A boisterous President Barack Obama tied baseball, voting and Taco Bell together during an Ohio campaign appearance Tuesday, joking that if you have time to get a taco, you have time to vote, likening it to a "combo meal."

"It's like you get something good for your soul and then you get something good for your appetite," he said, making reference to the World Series featuring the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs, who face off for Game 6 Tuesday night. Taco Bell had a promotion for a free taco in the event of the first stolen base.
    Obama then zeroed in on what amounts to his closing argument on behalf of Hillary Clinton. After spending the last year making entreaties to young people, African-Americans and women to cast their ballots, Obama appealed to an altogether different demographic: men.
    Speaking at the first in a stretch of closing campaign rallies for Hillary Clinton, Obama argued the Democratic nominee has been unfairly maligned in her decades-long political career. And he implored men in the crowd -- who polls show favoring Donald Trump in next week's presidential vote -- to take a true measure of their opposition to Clinton, the first woman to clinch a major party nomination.
    "I want every man out there to kind look inside yourself and as yourself, if you're having problems with this stuff, how much of it is that we're just not used to it?" Obama told a young and rowdy crowd in Columbus.
    "When a guy is ambitious and out in the public arena and working hard, well that's OK. But when a woman does it suddenly we're like 'Why's she doing that?'" Obama said. "I'm just being honest. Just want you to think about that because she is so much better qualified than the other guy."
    Obama was launching a week of rallies for Clinton, spread across the electoral battlegrounds that will determine his successor. On college campuses in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, Obama hopes to galvanize the coalition of voters who propelled him into office to support Clinton this time around.
    Polls show Clinton with a deficit among men -- not a surprise, given men have overwhelmingly supported the Republican candidate in the past several contests.
    A CNN/ORC survey taken October 20-23 showed 47% of men respondents backed Trump, with 44% supporting Clinton. That's a closer margin than the 2012 election, when 54% of men backed Mitt Romney and 46% supported Obama.
    In his remarks Tuesday, Obama said that men wary of the candidate should investigate their own sentiments, suggesting they might be unaware of a latent sexism in their political views.
    He pointed to his own marriage as an example of a man embracing a powerful woman.
    "I know that my wife is not just my equal but my superior," he said.
    Even his attacks on Trump sought to ding the billionaire candidate's manliness, saying his attacks on women demonstrated a weak character, and that his appeals to the working class were false.
    Trump "ain't never worn a baseball hat 'till he started selling em," Obama said, later imploring voters not to be "bamboozled."
    Obama insisted Clinton was a warrior for working class Americans and children, and not the conniving operator he claimed her opponents were painting her as.
    "If you get beat up enough in this political environment that's so toxic, after a while people start believing stuff," he said. "Hillary Clinton is consistently treated differently than just about any other candidate I see out there."
    As expected, Obama didn't mention the FBI controversy that has shaken the presidential campaign in its final stretch. But he did warn the thousands of people who had gathered in a college gymnasium here to ignore "noise and distractions" in the waning days of the contest. He cited "systematic attacks" on Clinton's character as an example of what the candidate has weathered since entering public life in the 1980s.
    "Has she made mistakes? Of course. So have I," Obama said. "There's nobody in the public arena over the course of 30 years that doesn't make some. But she's a fundamentally good and decent person who knows what she's doing who will be an outstanding president."