REPORTING FROM CHARLOTTE — In a speech that was vintage Bill Clinton — brilliant, bawdy, a little bit "aw shucks" and a tad on the long side — the former president made a compelling case for re-electing President Obama by offering a counter to every point that Republicans have made against a second term.
“I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation,” he said. “A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.”
Although he acknowledged that millions of Americans continue to feel the pain of the economic recession that Obama inherited, Clinton said that no president, including himself, could have turned things around in one term.
“But he has laid the foundation for a new, modern successful economy, a shared prosperity,” Clinton said. “And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it.”
Clinton called out congressional Republicans, who from the start of Obama’s presidency made it clear that they had no intention of helping him succeed, and have been accused of focusing on putting Obama out of work instead of Americans to work.
“Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats,” he said. “When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better.”
Clinton pointed to policy after policy implemented by the Obama administration that has helped strengthen the economy or benefited Americans in some way and contrasted them with solutions prescribed by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his party to highlight what he views as their hypocrisy and sometimes an inability to tell the truth. Clinton even took aim at the Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan for attacking Obama for robbing Medicare of $716 billion dollars even though Ryan’s own budget also calls for $716 billion in savings.
“It takes some brass to attack someone for doing what you did,” Clinton said.
He listed other issues on which Republicans have been less than truthful and was particularly offended by their claims that the president has sought to end the welfare-to-work program that Clinton signed into law. He praised Obama for the stimulus plan, his proposal to reduce the federal deficit, his support for strengthening student loan programs and efforts to create a more sustainable environment that includes clean air and clean water.
“Whether the American people believe what I’ve said or not may be the whole election. I just want you to know that I believe it. With all of my heart I believe it,” Clinton said.
At the end of his speech, to which the delegates responded with cheers and applause and excited expressions of agreement, Obama, acting very cool on the outside, but likely full of gratitude on the inside, strolled onto the stage to thank Clinton for his remarks.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)