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


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    Obama, Clinton et al offer a vision of US to become Europe II - they speak of EU values, not US values.
    Romney et al offer chance for US to stay US, stay the leading economy, stay the most creative, inspirational, technological inventive country. Why do you think Googe, Facebook, Twitter, Apple etc etc are US? Freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - not EU demo deficiency, unemployment..

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    About time. Some sensible reflection about the state of the economy. Let's hope the Americans have the good sense to give Obama a second term to strengthen the huge and more egalitarian changes he's implemented, so that the Republicans don't ride in on the back of his hard work and claim the successes as their own! Be brave USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    I don't think sucking the wind out of visionary people who take risks and create jobs (ie business owners) is good economic policy. Just think about it. Who is your boss? Do you think he/she would have woke up one day and decided to start a business - that ultimately hired you - had he/she known the business would be taxed at the highest bracket for any potential success? ambition creates jobs.

  • Comment number 303.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Re #289
    Free market decides.

    Nobody is forced to watch/listen to Fox News rather than CBS/ABC/NBC; just like nobody is forced to do the same re BBC, RT, Al Jazeera, etc.

    Read Washington Times rather than Washington Post.

    USNews&World Reports rather than Newsweek. Numbers speak for themeselves.

    Btw. C-SPAN cameras were banned for the 1st time when Obama&consortes discussed Obamacare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Clinton in a ringing endorsement of the Obama Presidency, set the tone for his reelection bid.The great communicator was at his charming best paving the way for the President to appeal directly to the voters on Thursday evening. The Democrats are on a real high after Michelle and Bill launched Obama on a perfect orbit.The economy, health-care are the twin pillars that will decide the election.

  • Comment number 300.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    The Internet is awash with concrete evidence for a colossal catalogue of police crimes & brutality of the highest order of psychopathy, committed by US police. Often these crimes and other misdeeds include whole police divisions. Almost all go unpunished. The USA is in an advanced stage of social & administrative degeneration. Yet what do their politicians do? Ponce about like clowns in a circus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Clinton's mistake was denying his involvement with Lewinksy. If he'd just 'fessed up he might have limited the damage to his reputation. JFK was a womaniser and still a very popular president. Compared e.g. to Nixon, Clinton's antics are relatively harmless and didn't really affect his politics. Not that I condone it, but if it's all that people have to undermine his credibility, it's a bit weak.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    PB: "Taking it out of the abstract, the USA was built on the desire to create an exclusively Puritan state. Bits of it were bought and sold over the years"

    I'm aware that Louisiana was purchased frm the French (who brought Creole slaves there), and Alaska from Russians.

    Which parts of U$A were ever sold?

    [though I think some politicians would like to sell US down the river]

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    All Americans want a bread and a economy recovery

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Great rethoric, Clinton is playing on sentiments. On your own versus We're in this together society: He is basically stating the choice is between a socialist, goverment controlled society versus a capitalistic system driven society. The latter made America the unique powerful country it still is, but for how long? To generate economic growth and jobs, capitalism is still the preferred model.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.


    ".I'm sure the greymen will come up with some hidden vice that will taint the republicans"

    Homophobia, Christian Fundamentalism, Hawkish foreign policy, promoting 'intelligent design' in schools....

    No, I think they're pretty open about those

  • Comment number 293.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Ever since GW Bush I almost start to hyperventilate when I see the Republican candidates. What is it with these people that they want to bestow so much misery on so many? Are their parents to blame?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    The republican war on women. I could list the points but John Stewart is so much better at that than me. If you want an idea of how backwards the GOP is and how much they are trying to remove rights that were fought hard for, watch this short montage of news stories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Whilst Obama has been rather disappointing (Guantanamo still there, wars still going on etc)..... The alternative, in the form of any republican candidate, doesn't bear thinking about!

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    The BEEB has lost millions of followers over these last few years because of biased reporting and I bet that shows in a fall of TV licence holders.
    Talk about shooting the messenger. If you don't like the facts watch Fox News, they're more than happy to put out evidence free, right-wing polemic in the guise of news. A bit like your comment above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

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

    Taking it out of the abstract, the USA was built on the desire to create an exclusively Puritan state. Bits of it were bought and sold over the years, wars were fought. You can mythologise them if you want, but America's origins and history take place within the age of literacy, and are thus a bit too well-documented for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Chinas middle class is almost as big as the entire population of the US.

    Data knowing meerkat:

    Number of China's abjectly poor (esp. in rural areas) is at least twice as big as number of all US citizens/legal residents.

    [I'm not including ca 20 million illegal aliens]


Page 1 of 16


More US & Canada stories



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.