Democratic convention: Bill Clinton backs Barack Obama

 

Bill Clinton on Obama's economic record: 'This may be the entire election'

Former US President Bill Clinton has delivered a prime-time defence of Barack Obama, nominating the president for a second term in the White House.

His 50-minute speech at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, was strongly critical of Republican economic plans.

He launched a full-throated defence of Mr Obama's policies, saying his economic policies were working.

Mr Obama will take on Republican Mitt Romney in November's election.

Bill Clinton's speech is being seen as the high point of a revitalised relationship between the two presidents and as an attempt to boost Mr Obama's appeal with white working-class voters.

Start Quote

This speech stood out for being entirely different from anything else I have heard on the campaign trail, from either side ”

End Quote

Polls show these traditional Democratic voters are wary of Mr Obama, but Mr Clinton has a strong record in winning their support.

Mr Clinton told the crowd that they would "decide what kind of country you want to live in".

"If you want a 'you're on your own, winner take all society' you should support the Republican ticket," he said. "If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities - a 'we're all in it together' society - you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."

Mr Clinton accused Republicans of having blocked further progress on the economic recovery.

"In order to look like an acceptable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they couldn't say much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years," he said, referring to the Republican convention in Florida a week ago.

Reminding the crowd that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had revealed that their number one priority was to get Mr Obama out of office, he declared: "We're going to keep President Obama on the job."

Ryan attack

Mr Clinton argued that Mr Obama's economic policies on taking office had prevented further collapse and begun the recovery, but said he knew that many Americans were still struggling.

Elizabeth Warren railed against inequality on the convention stage

He compared Mr Obama's experience to his own first term in office, when "our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn't feel it yet".

"No president. No president - not me, not any of my predecessors - no-one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years," he said.

"But he has laid the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president's contract you will feel it. You will feel it."

Mr Clinton criticised Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who he said misrepresented Mr Obama's Medicare policy at last week's Republican convention.

He argued that Mr Ryan had made the same amount in cuts as part of his plan for government-sponsored healthcare for the elderly.

"It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did," Mr Clinton.

Bill Clinton - press reaction

According to the Washington Post's Dana Mill, Bill Clinton's popularity and strong endorsement made "the case for Obama's re-election more cogently than Obama has made it".

Andrew Rosenthal, in the New York Times, said Mr Clinton presented himself as "the beloved party elder called forth from his retirement to help save Mr Obama's candidacy".

For Politico's Maggie Haberman, the most significant point Mr Clinton made was "that the nation's challenges were so great in 2009, when Obama took office, that they were unsolvable in a single term".

Writing in USA Today, Richard Wolf and David Jackson said the speech was "vintage Clinton the educator, explaining to an adoring audience where their party can brag about progress and the other side cannot".

He also countered a Republican ad that Mr Obama had weakened the work requirement for welfare, which Mr Clinton signed into law.

"When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20%," Mr Clinton said, adding that the Republican charge was "just not true".

After the former president finished a lengthy and partially ad-libbed speech, Mr Obama joined him on stage.

The pair have previously sparred, most notably during the 2008 primaries when Mr Clinton supported his wife Hillary's bid for the nomination, and they are known not have a close personal bond.

Israel confusion

Earlier, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was just one of a string of speakers who highlighted social causes including women's issues, and economic concerns such as the future of the auto industry.

Ms Pelosi warned that "democracy was on the ballot" in November.

"Republicans support opening the floodgates to special interest money and suppressing the right to vote," she said. "It's just plain wrong."

Sandra Fluke: 'We talk often about choice... it's time to choose'

Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren railed against inequality, saying Mitt Romney's policy would amount to "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own".

And Sandra Fluke, a student branded a "slut" by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh during a row over contraception, made a prime-time appearance calling for action on women's issues.

In a procedural surprise as Wednesday's events got under way, the convention reinstated language from the 2008 platform describing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In confusing scenes a voice vote on the language was called three times. Despite loud boos in the audience, convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa said he had determined that two-thirds of the convention had voted in favour.

Reports emerged shortly afterwards that Mr Obama had personally intervened to change the platform's language.

In 2008 President Obama galvanised volunteers. Four years later some still heed the call - but others have become disillusioned.

 

More on This Story

US Presidential Election 2012

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 285.

    Great speech by the incomparable Bill Clinton ... covered all the points and every thinking person should vote for 4 more years of Obama ... the mess he inherited ... double digit recession , 2 wars, mass unemployment ... all created by the Reps ... already Obama has made good headway in spite of all the obstruction and downright nastiness of the opposition ... thanks Bill for your perspective...

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 241.

    Obama has been a disaster for the US. He needs to go.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 180.

    Let's hope the American electorate listen to reason and elect the next president based solely on their achievements and, future plans.
    It would be a tragedy if the Republicans crept into power on the back of 'celebrity' endorsement, television advertising of candidate stroking a lamb, wife making pancakes etc...
    President Obama has done a pretty good job, home and abroad, I respect him for that

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 136.

    It must be a lot easier to run a country when there is good employment and terrorism is not an everyday occurence. People felt okay about themselves. Bill Clinton seemed to have a lot fewer worries than a president would have today so he could afford to be popular.His problems all seemed self-made.Obama is like a rabbit caught in headlights. Where to go? What to do?

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 84.

    Fom what I have seen the republicans/tea party have frustrated Obama at every move. So it doesn't seem entirely fair to blame him for inaction. The republicans seem transfixed on taking the US back to some mythical time of puritism with individual greed (the two don't go in my mind). Isn't it greed that got the world economy in the mess it is today?

 

Comments 5 of 6

 

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.