President Obama embraced Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE as the most qualified presidential candidate in American history as he issued a full-throated endorsement on the campaign trail. 

Obama appeared comfortable out of the confines of the official office and back on the campaign trail. He warmed up the crowd to begin his speech with chants and a brief ode to North Carolina before pivoting to Clinton, whom he called a "great secretary of State" in his administration. 

"I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton, and I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America," he told a roaring crowd in Charlotte, N.C., a state that he won back in 2008. 

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"Nobody fully understands the challenges of the job of president until you’ve actually sat at that desk ... there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton, ever. 
 
He looked back on the lessons from their bitter 2008 Democratic primary, asserting that he "came away from that primary admiring her even more.” 

Obama said with a smile that Clinton beat him in the first half of their debates, but then he "barely played her to a draw" after that. 

“She had to do everything I had to do, but she was like Ginger Rodgers. She had to do it backwards in heels," he said. 

And he described the "grace and energy in which she threw herself into my campaign" after Clinton lost, a notable difference from Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Top aide Jeff Weaver lays out Sanders's path to victory MORE's reluctance to endorse Clinton despite her hold on the party's nomination. 

"Not because she wasn't disappointed about the outcome of the primary. She knew there was something at stake that was bigger than either of us, and that was the direction of the country," Obama said. 

“We may have gone toe-to-toe from coast-to-coast, but we stood shoulder to shoulder for the ideals that we shared.”