CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former President Bill Clinton launched an impassioned defense of President Obama’s first term on Wednesday in a nominating speech that was aimed squarely at independent voters.
The country is indeed “better off” thanks to Obama’s first term, Clinton argued in a lengthy yet rousing speech that showed why the former president is one of his party’s most effective messengers.
“No president, not me or any of my predecessors, could have repaired all the damage in just four years,” said Clinton, telling the crowd that Obama began his term with “a much weaker economy than I did.” Republicans, he said, left Obama “a total mess.”
While accusing Congressional Republicans of standing in the way of Obama’s legislative agenda, Clinton lit into Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, telling voters the country faces a stark choice this November.
“If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket,” Clinton said. “If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
One of Clinton’s biggest cheers of the night came thanks to an ad libbed shot at Ryan over the GOP’s charge that Obama “raided” Medicare.
“It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you’d do,” said Clinton to roars from the crowd.
Following Clinton’s speech, Obama briefly joined the former president on stage, an appearance that electrified the convention hall.
The Romney campaign pushed back by characterizing Clinton’s record as one “President Obama simply can’t match.”
“After nearly four years in office, middle-class Americans aren’t better off under President Obama, with fewer jobs, lower incomes, and increased poverty — so he’s turned to a president whose record he can tout,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.
Clinton’s speech couldn’t have come at a better time for Democrats. His remarks capped an otherwise mess of a second day at the DNC. Ahead of Clinton’s speech, the party’s message on day two was largely obscured by an embarrassing battle on the floor over changes to the party’s official platform.
By a voice vote, Democrats reinserted “God” into the party’s platform and added language that labeled Jerusalem the official capital of Israel. It took three voice votes before the change was declared official, and it resulted in boos from many delegates in the hall.
The brief chaos on the convention floor was an opening for Republicans to pounce, and it also came on the heels of news that Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech would be moved from Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium to the much smaller Time Warner Center.
The official line from the president’s campaign is that the move is due to the threat of severe weather, but speculation persisted throughout the day as to whether the real concern was over filling the stadium, which seats more than 70,000.