President Barack Obama inherited a wreck of an economy, “put a floor under the crash” and laid the foundation for millions of good new jobs, former President Bill Clinton declared Wednesday night in a rousing Democratic National Convention appeal aimed at millions of hard-pressed Americans yet to decide how to vote.
Conceding that many struggling in a slow-recovery economy don’t yet feel the change, Clinton said in a prime-time speech that circumstances are improving “and if you’ll renew the president’s contract you will feel it.”
To the cheers of thousands of Democrats packed into their convention hall, he said of Obama, “I want to nominate a man who is cool on the outside but who burns for America on the inside.”
The speech was vintage Clinton, overlong for sure, insults delivered with a folksy grin, references to his own time in office and his wife Hillary, all designed to improve Obama’s chances for re-election in an era of painfully slow economic growth and 8.3 percent unemployment.
Clinton spoke as Obama’s high command worked to control the political fallout from an embarrassing retreat on the party platform, just two months from Election Day in a tight race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Under criticism from Romney, the Obama camp abruptly rewrote the day-old document to insert a reference to God and to declare that Jerusalem “is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Some delegates objected loudly, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, presiding in the largely-empty hall, ruled them outvoted. White House aides said Obama had personally ordered the changes, but they did not disclose whether he had approved the earlier version.
The convention hall rocked with delegates’ applause and cheers as Clinton – unofficial Democratic ambassador-in-chief to anxious voters in a tough economy – strode onstage to sounds of “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” his 1992 campaign theme song.
He sought to rebut every major criticism Republicans have leveled against the president at their own convention last week in Tampa, and said that in fact, since 1961, far more jobs have been created under Democratic presidents than when Republicans sat in the White House – by a margin of 42 million to 24 million.
Clinton accused Republicans of proposing “the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place” and led to a near financial meltdown. Those, he said, include efforts to provide “tax cuts for higher-income Americans, more money for defense than the Pentagon wants and … deep cuts on programs that help the middle class and poor children.”
“As another president once said, `There they go again,’” he said, quoting Ronald Reagan, who often uttered the remark as a rebuke to Democrats.
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