Bill Clinton makes case for Obama at DNC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In an impassioned speech that rocked the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton said last night, "I know we're coming back" from the worst economic mess in generations and urged hard-pressed Americans to stick with President Barack Obama for a second term.
Obama strode onstage as Clinton concluded his speech. The 42nd president bowed, and was pulled into an embrace by the 44th as thousands of delegates jammed into the convention hall roared their approval.
Not long afterward, the delegates formally awarded Obama their nomination in a post-midnight roll call of the states.
Clinton, conceding that many in a slow-recovery economy don't yet feel improvement, said circumstances are indeed getting better, "and if you'll renew the president's contract you will feel it." He said of Obama: "I want to nominate a man who is cool on the outside but who burns for America on the inside."
"If you want a you're-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket," Clinton said during his speech. "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."
Clinton spoke as Obama's high command worked to control the political fallout from an embarrassing retreat on the party platform. Under criticism from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Democrats 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 say whether he had approved the earlier version.
The episode was an unwanted intrusion for Democratic officials, who scripted the evening to showcase Clinton.
When the former president -- unofficial Democratic ambassador-in-chief to anxious voters in a tough economy -- strode onstage to "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," his 1992 campaign theme song, the convention hall rocked with delegates' applause and cheers.
"In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's re-election was pretty simple: 'We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in,' " Clinton said.
"I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators."
Obama's acceptance speech Thursday night will now take place indoors, after aides moved the venue from a football stadium, citing the threat of bad weather amid recent heavy downpours.
Clinton's speech marked the seventh convention in a row he has addressed, and the latest twist in a relationship with Obama that has veered from frosty to friendly. The two men clashed in 2008, when Obama outran Clinton's wife for the party's presidential nomination.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Obama's secretary of state, was in East Timor but made a cameo appearance on the screens at the Time Warner Cable Arena, in a video that honored the 12 Democratic female senators in office.
Whatever the past differences between presidents current and past, Obama and his top aides looked to Clinton as the man best able to vouch for him when it comes to the economy -- Obama's largest hurdle.
Party leaders did their best to draw as little attention as possible to the change in the platform. The changes came after the GOP criticized an earlier decision to strip the word "God" from the Democrats' official platform.
Wednesday's switch puts the platform in line with what advisers say is Obama's personal view, if not the policy of his administration. "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel," the platform now says. "The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."