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Filler: Bill Clinton runs long, but hammers home the Democrats message

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks on stage

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Sept. 5, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

11:34 p.m. - Overall, the evening was a good one for the Democrats. The industry leaders were weak as speakers but convincing as people. Elizabeth Warren made a lot of friends with a heartfelt speech that preached nothing more than looking out for the little guy and trying to control the natural tendency of big concerns to become voracious.

Clinton was wonderful, as he always is, but he would have been far more wonderful if he stuck to the 28 minutes he was supposed to take rather than going on for a full 48 minutes.

I'd say an A-, if only because so many of the assertions Clinton made are going to be so hard for the Republicans to repudiate. They're mostly just facts, or as Clinton would say, "arithmetic."

11:29 p.m. - The crowd is still fired up as Villaraigosa returns to finish off the evening. No one watches it at home, but there is always a benediction, and the retiring of the color guard.

The LA mayor gets the whole crowd cheering as he asks them to second the nominations of Obama, along with him.

And they're going to the roll call of the states.

11:26 p.m. - The two walk off together, first with Obama's arm around Clinton, then they separate to wave to the crowd.

And the crowd continues to cheer, as Tom Petty's "I won't back down," plays, as if the two men could be convinced to do an encore if they cheer loudly enough.

11:24 p.m. - Clinton is getting exhausted, too. His delivery is faltering a bit, but he's trying to get the energy back.

"Double down on trickle down" is a fairly effective slam on Romney/Ryan.

Want a "We're all in this together society," Clinton asks. Support Obama.

And he's going to end not on Obama, but on America, its resilience, and its strength. Now he's going for the peak and he has it.

And as Obama appears the audience goes truly wild.

11:18 p.m. - Is it possible the audience is getting a bit exhausted? Do they have visions of martinis and cigarettes dancing in their head. Clinton probably needs to wrap this up.

But will he? This is the man who spoke for so long at the 1988 DNC that people were falling alseep.

11:17 p.m - Clinton seems personally offended by the Republican assertion that Obama is trying to strip the work requirement from the welfare rules Clinton signed.

So he's parsing it for the audience.

Well, not parsing exactly. He says it's just a flat lie, and that the recipients are working more.

Turning the Republicans "We're not going to let our campaign be run by fact checkers" back at them, and he's doing it well.

And on to the debt, and problems it will bring when the economy improves and interest rates go up.

Bobbles the math a bit, but he got his point across on the ratio of cuts to tax increases in the Obama deficit reduction plan.

What did Clinton bring to Washington to balance the budget? "Arithmetic." Instant tweet fodder.

11:11 p.m. - Clinton just hates not being president. He's done the best he can to move past it, but you can tell he just wants to grab the wheel and drive this sucker, rather than just giving directions from the backseat.

And in the great William Jefferson Clinton tradition, he's going to go long with this speech. This time it's all right, they don't want him to stop.

11:08 p.m. - Clinton seems to be starting his build to the finish of the speech.

He's making a fascinating point about how Obama's changes on student loans could convince bright people to take important jobs with mediocre pay.

And now to health care.

Nobody can get people to listen to wonky policy facts like Clinton. It was always one of his great talents, and practically every other Democrat who's spoken over the past two days has failed at it.

Reduction in the rate of health care expense increases gets applause.

Clinton is now debunking the Ryan $716 billion Obama cuts to Medicare story. He's right that Obama never cut any services to Medicare in Obamacare. But it is worth pointing out no one has ever made any headway in getting the cuts in compensation to service providers that Obama says will pay the $716 billion.

So neither side is blameless. The Republicans are lying. The Democrats are just blindly optimistic.

"It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did," Clinton says, referencing Ryan's own $716 billion Medicare cut.

Likely to be one of the top lines of the speech.

11:01 p.m. - The rest is just details: What Obama did succeed in doing, which is largely incremental but important. The auto bailout. The effect it had on related suppliers.

Getting into some audience call and response with the word "zero" in response to what Romeny would have accomplished in each situation, as opposed to Obama.

The Associated Press has confirmed Obama will join Clinton on stage, something most of the audience likely doesn't know.

It will be fascinating to see the level of response for the president.

When Romney joined his wife on stage in Tampa, the crowd response was surprisingly tepid.

10:56 p.m. - Clinton asks "Are we better off than when he took office," to tumultuous yeses.

And he's going to assess the Democratic challenge, dealing with the pain and anger of those who are still failing in this economy.

Clinton just can't resist patting himself on the back along the way.

And he makes the primary assertion Democrats will have to sell if they want to win this thing: that no president living or dead could have fixed the mess Obama inherited in just four years.

That, along with some sort of plan for how to govern going forward, has to be nearly the entire campaign for the Democrats.

10:52 p.m. - This crowd is constantly on the edge of a standing ovation. They can be set off by a well-placed comma at this point.

The really big moment, it's rumored, is going to be when Obama joins Clinton on stage at the end of the speech.

Now he's going to make fun of the Tampa RNC.

Clinton gets a laugh asserting that the GOP's platform is "We left Obama a mess, he didn't clean it up fast enough, put us back in."

And that he definitely learned they all love their families, and are proud to be Americans.

Borrows Ronald Reagan's famous line, saying "There they go again."

10:47 p.m. - Clinton says Obama is still committed to constructive cooperation, and points to Joe Biden, Obama's opponent in the 2008 primaries. As well as Hilary's appointment. Gets huge applause when he says his wife's name.

10:45 p.m. - Stressing the bipartisan nature of things, the good things the Bushes, Reagan and Eisenhower have done. The crowd doesn't love those names, but it's a good move to be gracious in that way. And it's moral to recognize those presidents did good things.

Clinton is so much more comfortable taking a really long pause than most speakers, he'll stand up there quiet all day until he gets the vibe he wants.

On a side note, his hands seem to be shaking a bit.

10:41 p.m. - Clinton is now on Tampa and the RNC. He calls the Republican narrative an alternate universe.

He's also so practiced at this that you could almost believe he was ad libbing if you didn't know better.

And now he's running the numbers on Democratic presidents versus Republicans, the track record.

As well as the moral argument for the Democratic platform, and the strong middle class.

10:37 p.m. - He's trying to settle this rowdy crowd so he can speak.

It's Obama idolatry to lead off.

You forget just how good a speaker he always was. Measured, manipulative, with flawless timing and an easy smile.

And he's smart enough to give a huge shout out to Michelle.

10:34 p.m. - Clinton looks great.

Clinton, 66, was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993-2001. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Clinton, twice served as governor of Arkansas. He is married to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton. Although he was dogged by the Monica Lewinsky scandal while in office, he is revered for the budget surpluses generated during his presidency and his moderate ability to work with Republicans in Washington. Since he left office, he has pursued a series of social causes, fighting AIDS and global warming internationally through his William J. Clinton Foundation.

While the relationship between Clinton and President Barack Obama has not always been warm, particularly when Hilary was running against Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008, insiders say they have since warmed to each other somewhat. Clinton’s popularity and fundraising prowess and considered necessities if Obama is to retain the White House in November. 

10:33 p.m. - And it looks like it will be a Clinton video, followed by the man himself.

I think the crowd is ready to nominate Clinton instead of Obama.

10:32 p.m. - Antonio Villaraigosa is now on to do the whole nomination dance.

Villaraigosa, 59, is the mayor of Los Angeles, a job post has held since 2005. He previously served in the California State Assembly and on the LA City Council. Before that, he worked as a labor organizer. He attended UCLA and the “People’s College of Law,” but does not practice, as he has failed to pass the bar repeatedly. In the kind of move that makes conservatives smirk, he was born Antonio Villar, but changed his last name to Villaraigosa when he married Corina Raigosa.

10:31 p.m. - Warren seems to have hit her high point mid-speech, but maybe she can bring it back.

Now she's remembering Ted Kennedy, whose old Senate seat she is looking to take. Probably trying to resonate with her Massachusetts voters, which is a national priority for the Democratic Party.

And she ends with a clarion call to the audience to work, strive and fight to get Obama reelected.

10:26 p.m. - Warren's opponent, Scott Brown, spoke at the RNC, and did so-so. Warren is doing better, I think, because she so clearly is speaking from the heart, and on issues about which she has a great deal of knowledge.

It's like she's talking to her children across the kitchen table. She has no particular talent as a speaker, yet it works on sincerity alone. And because the government really does need to either oversee the big banks or make it clear they won't, so investors can wisely flee or force them to be more prudent.

Warren gets her biggest cheers outlining the differences between corporations and people. Which is great fodder, but doesn't make as much sense as people would like to think. Corporations aren't people, but their stockholders and employees are, and they have all the rights of people, of speech and all else, even when combined into a group of individuals called a corporation.

10:20 p.m. - It's her first DNC, which is kind of amazing. She can't speak for the chants of "Warren Warren Warren."

Finally gets the crowd settled down and starts talking about her specialty, consumers, average people, and says the game is rigged against them.

Says her family was "on the ragged edge of the middle class." Great line.

The theme that speakers only want to ensure people have the opportunities they have has been a constant, at both conventions. Both parties seem to be entirely convinced they are the ones who can guarantee that, via very different paths.

That's really what this election is about at the bottom, which vision people believe can deliver that.

10:16 p.m. - And now, it's not the one they've been waiting for, but it's the one they've almost been waiting for. Elizabeth Warren enters to raucous applause.

Warren, 63, is a Harvard Law School professor currently seeking Ted Kennedy’s old seat in the U.S. Senate (currently held by her opponent, Republican Scott Brown). Warren attended Brown University and Georgetown Law School.

She is an expert on bankruptcy law and personal finance and was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren also chaired the panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program.