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.

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

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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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    @281.farkyss: You're accusing a lot of unnamed people, surgeries and hospitals of reneging on their duty of care or their NHS contract, then telling us that it's "unfair" to give any specifics except that "they all worked for the evil communist NHS". Uhuh.

    Are you a Libertarian (in the Ron Paul sense), by any chance? Seen similar "personal accounts" elsewhere on the web by them.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 284.

    152. "They're not given the option to vote on universal healthchare because Obamacare isn't universal healthcare, it's mandatory health insurance, which isn't the same thing."

    I assume you're aware that the condition that insurance be mandatory was added *at the insistence of the Republicans*.

    If you break down the individual elements of Obamacare, it is the only one that polls unfavourably.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    RE US elections? I'm happy with the DC floor's reaction to the God/Isral vote. I'm happy with the message from Gary Johnson and Ron Paul (even if Ron Paul's campaign was run by an idiot whose sole qualificiation was that he is boffing his RP's granddaughter) I'm happy that more Americans than ever are waking up.

    It would be unfair for me to divulge personal info here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    "Typical GP wait 2 weeks, typical outpatients 20 weeks typical treatment: never/incomplete/unhelpful"

    Really? Where I am if you want to book a non-urgent appointment for a particular date/doctor, then yes you may wait two weeks, but they have same day appointments every day, & it doesn't need to be serious.

    The NHS is not perfect but it is in a different league to MediCare/MediAid

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    @276. farkyss: I don't believe you. So far you've claimed that you've tried everything exactly as suggested and all failed. You've interspersed this with rants about the evils of state-supported healthcare.

    Will you name consultant, or the hospital, you chose? The 3 GP surgeries who are breaking their NHS contract in East Anglia? If the NHS was as you say, MPs would have no time for anything else

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    "In an unusual display of dissent at the party's convention, Democrats struggled to complete a voice vote amending their party platform to include language referring to God and to Jerusalem as Israel's capital."
    (CNN, news wires)

    Perhaps Mark Mardell can explain (away) why so many Democrats have problems with 'God' and 'Jerusalem, Israel's capital"???

    [Inquiring minds want to know]

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    I live in America (St. Louis, Missouri) and I'm a Democrat. Unfortunately, I am afraid that Romney will win. You got to realize that most Americans aren't dumb. It's just that most younger/lower income people don't vote. Older, religious people with more rigid beliefs are much more likely to vote, and the younger people tend to think they must know what they're doing, so they cede power to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Now that is what you call a speech. Not some mumbling old fart talking to a chair...

    As they say "Bill is Back"

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    I see that the two main presidential parties are singing from the same heavily thumbed hymn sheet! Who said there isn’t harmony in the world of politics? This must mean that everyone/anyone who votes will be happy... whoever wins? Fascinating!

  • Comment number 276.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    The system is a bad idea whether you're in UK or US.

    You are being taken for schmucks:
    If you're not the 1% the system will bleed you dry and throw you out to dry.

    The right will lie: "you can 'aspire' to the 1%. give all control to the markets"
    The left will lie "everyone is equal, give all control to the state".

    Folks, don't fall for it - USA was built on freedom, not greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    268 kingfisherphil
    Couldn't agree more! But FYI - this morning I took issue over the removal of a comment I made yesterday in another context. Pointed out the futility of inviting opinions if one single complaint was enough to have them removed, despite being on-topic, and not containing even a whiff of obscenity/racism/homophobia, etc. The have restored the comment in question. Good on 'em.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Clinton most certainly didn't create the chaos& duplicity: 3 times Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Convention Chairman, called for a voice vote on the changes regarding God & Israel, especially Jerusalem as capital. Yes-no appeared equal. THIRD ATTEMPT: Villaraigosa SIMPLY RULED amendments approved.
    What a spectacle: Democracy in action!

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    @262. farkyss: Have you actually asked for more/other physio or gym referral? Have you named specific consultants? Find the best for your condition in the country offering NHS appt (eg research hospital), and ask for your GP to write to them. Ask them to tell the GP what you need.

    Testing *costs* - not profitable!

    Re jobs, have you seen an occupational therapist? Did they really say "give up"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    The grey men in suits have not finished with their homegrown patsy, just yet! They'll get some more mileage out of him, so I'm guessing another 4 years Mr Obama.....I'm sure the greymen will come up with some hidden vice that will taint the the eyes of US electorate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    @262 'farkyss'
    Do you make things up as you go along? You seem to find fault in everything.

    Is there anything you are happy with? Go on, I dare you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    I hope he does get voted in again over the barking mad Republicans, buuut people should also be dissapointed he bailed out Wall Street, expanded the war, didn't close gitmo, re-signed the Patriot Act and signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (even worse) tried to sign in SOPA backed down from public anger then snuck in CISPA and his healthcare bill is only a marginal improvement on nothing

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    At last it is confirmed , reincarnation exists! Mrs Mary Whitehouse is at the BBC, she works as a moderator! Surely any mention of Clinton's sexual antics, without using explicit terminology is acceptable to the BBC? Come on grow up it is 2012, you have effing and blinding on both tv and radio commonplace! Free speech? Not whilst we have you guys running the show!

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    It really is simple.

    If the Americans don't vote for Obama then they are going to suffer big time.
    If they don't vote 3rd party they are going to suffer big time.


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