Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton touts Obama, rips Republicans in Democratic convention speech

Former president says: 'Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month... The answer is yes.'

Comments (602)
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012, 9:50 AM

 Former President Bill Clinton speaks on the second night of the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena.  (James Keivom/New York Daily News)

James Keivom/New York Daily News

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Wednesday night.

CHARLOTTE — Former President Clinton, once again in the political spotlight, electrified the Democratic National Convention Wednesday by passionately proclaiming that four more years of President Obama is the best choice for America’s future.
Clinton, whose legacy is undergoing a resurgence as both parties pine for the economic boom of the 1990s, sauntered onto the Charlotte stage and proceeded to deliver withering, wisely phrased attacks on Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“In Tampa the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple, pretty snappy: ‘We left him a total mess, he hadn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in,’” he thundered.

Nick Merrill/State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton watched her husband, former president Bill Clinton, deliver his DNC speech. She was in East Timor at the home the U.S. ambassador there.


David Handschuh/new York Daily News

Bill Clinton and President Obama stand together following Clinton's speech.

Clinton, whose approval ratings have never been higher, evoked the economic growth he oversaw in the 1990s — and pledged that Obama could lead the nation up the mountain again.
“Are we where we want to be? No. Is the President satisfied? Of course not,” Clinton said. “Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? The answer is yes.”

James Keivom/New York Daily News

He pleaded with voters to have more patience, saying that Obama has laid the foundation for a true economic recovery.

“The most important question is: What kind of country do you want to live in?” the 42nd President asked.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

Clinton has become a powerful ally to Obama.

“If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket,” Clinton continued. “If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Clinton, whose relationship with Obama was famously frosty when the-then Illinois Senator challenged Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries, has become a powerful ally for the President — and let it be known his commitment to the cause is sincere. “I believe it,” he said. “With all my heart, I believe it.”

James Keivom/New York Daily News

People cheer as First Lady Michelle Obama reacts to President Clinton's praise: 'After last night, I want to nominate a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.'

He ripped Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, for suggesting that Obamacare would take $716 billion from Medicare — the same amount called for in the Wisconsin Congressman’s budget plan. “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did,” Clinton said scathingly.

David Handschuh/New York Daily News

Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Wednesday.

Time and again in what was a long speech, the white-haired political master repeatedly flashed his trademark ability to distill complex issues into understandable sentences, delivered with folksy charm.

Clinton, a combatant in fierce partisan warfare while in office, made a plea for bipartisanship, and smiled as he praised Obama’s efforts to bridge divides within the Democratic Party: “He appointed Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries — heck, he even appointed Hillary!”

James Keivom/New York Daily News

Clinton wrapped up after about 48 minutes, speaking for longer than his notoriously monotonous 33-minute 1988 DNC nomination speech, which drew cheers from the crowd when he finally said “in conclusion....” But this time, the audience savored every last word and punctuated many points with rapturous applause. When Clinton was done, Obama appeared from backstage and the Presidents hugged, creating an image destined for Democratic campaign commercials.

“Clinton did something in Charlotte the Republicans didn’t even try in Tampa — he spoke beyond the base to independent, persuadable, moderate America,” said a veteran Democratic strategist. “Ten percent of America is left in play and he spoke directly to them. It was a tour de force of rational political communication.”

David Handschuh/New York Daily News

Nancy Pelosi,  Democratic Leader and Member of the House at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Wednesday.

America’s 44th President was officially nominated for a second term by a roll call of the state delegations on the convention floor that stretched into the early hours Thursday.

When Obama gives his speech in acceptance of his party’s nomination, he’ll retake the stage about 10 p.m. Thursday or a few minutes thereafter; it’ll be a smaller scene than in Denver four years ago, gone will be the cavernous stadium dotted with Greek columns, but the stakes will be just as high, perhaps even higher.

Due to a forecast of thunderstorms in Charlotte, Obama will speak at a 20,000-seat arena rather than at a 70,000-person football stadium — a Plan B that led Republicans to charge that the Dems couldn’t fill the field’s stands.

David Handschuh/New York Daily News

Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Wednesday.

Sheltered from threatening skies but not the partisan storm, the President’s crucial speech will aim to remind voters why they were swept away in 2008 by his lofty language — eight years of GOP leadership that led to an economic collapse. He was expected to acknowledge times are still tough, but make the argument that they will only get worse if Romney wins the White House.

Along his rhetorical path he will likely highlight some of his administration’s triumphs — the bailout of the auto industry, the passage of an historic national health care reform and the celebrated day when the U.S. caught up to Osama Bin Laden.

With Thomas M. DeFrank and Joseph Straw
Post a Comment