Their political history may be fraught with tension, but former President Bill Clinton put aside any past disagreements with Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night. The 42nd president gave a rousing speech endorsing Obama's reelection in November, slamming the far right wing of the Republican Party and rebuking the Romney/Ryan ticket for running a dishonest campaign in the process.
"I want to nominate a man who's cool on the outside but who burns for America on the inside," Clinton told the audience in Charlotte, after taking the stage to his own former campaign song, Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop." "I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States and I proudly nominate him to be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party."
Earlier in the evening, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke and American Idol alum Jessica Sanchez gave a performance. But it was Clinton who predictably stole the spotlight, speaking for just under an hour and outlining the stark differences between the Democratic and Republican tickets. "This Republican narrative, this alternative universe, says that every one of us in this room who amounts to anything, we're all completely self-made," Clinton said. "We [Democrats] believe that 'we're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'you're on your own.'"
Responding to the Republican claim that Obama has not done enough to fix the economy during his time in office, Clinton emphatically stated: "No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years."
Clinton also had disparaging words for the Tea Party-led far right faction of the GOP. "Though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our President," he said. "When times are tough, and people are frustrated ... the politics of constant conflict may be good, but what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. ... One of the main reasons we ought to reelect President Obama is that he's still committed to constructive cooperation."
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney were also targets of Clinton's criticism, which was harsh at times. Specifically, Clinton accused Ryan of falsely attacking Obama over Medicare last week at the Republican National Convention.
"President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare. They strengthened Medicare," Clinton said. "When Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama's Medicare savings as, quote, the 'biggest coldest power play,' I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Because, that 716 billion dollars is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that [Ryan] had in his own budget. You've got to give him one thing. It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.
"Their campaign pollster said, 'We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,'" Clinton added. "Now finally I can say, that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself."
Clinton also bashed Romney's economic plan for failing "the first test of fiscal responsibility: the numbers won't add up."
The 42nd president ended his speech by telling attendees that they had a clearly-defined choice. "When we vote in this election, we'll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in," he said. "If you want a 'you're on your own, winner take all society,' you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities — a 'we're all in this together' society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."
After Clinton's remarks, President Obama, who had flown to Charlotte earlier in the day, came out on stage to embrace him and wave to the audience as Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" played throughout the arena.
Obama will officially accept the party's nomination for president Thursday night, the final night of the convention.
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