CHARLOTTE — Former President Bill Clinton, once a political foe of President Barack Obama, made a strong case that he’s one of the nominee’s best surrogates Wednesday, especially when it comes to bringing independents into the re-election effort.
In a speech that was repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations and often veered from the prepared remarks on his Teleprompter, Clinton took on nearly every criticism that Republicans leveled at Obama last week at their party convention in Tampa. Clinton’s wide-ranging speech defended several aspects of Obama’s record, including his health care law, the controversial Recovery Act, the restructuring of cash-strapped American auto companies and even his choice of Joe Biden as vice president.
“We believe ‘we’re all in this together’ is a far better philosophy than ‘you’re on your own,'” Clinton said in a speech that went on for nearly an hour. “I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside but burns for American on the inside.”
Clinton even took on the question that Republicans have used in their convention counter-programming this week, arguing that the country is better off than it was when Obama first took office.
“Are we better off than we were when he took office? Listen to this, listen to this,” he said, clearly enjoying an audience hanging on his every word. “When President Obama took office, the economy was in a free fall, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes.”
During a convention that up until this point appeared to be geared toward the liberal wing of the party, Clinton’s remarks were tailored to independents who might tune in during prime time. He made his arguments comprehensively, weaving personal stories in and out of his pitch for the president.
“If you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it,” Clinton said. “Whether the American people believe that or not might decide the whole election. I just want you to know that I believe it.”
When Clinton finished, he bowed to Obama, who joined him on the stage. The two embraced before walking offstage together.