Clinton boosts Obama in convention speech

Former US president makes economic case for re-election of Barack Obama in speech to party faithful in North Carolina.

    Bill Clinton has told Americans he believes "with all my heart" that President Barack Obama saved the economy, had left them better off than four years ago and should be re-elected.

    The two-term Democratic president, who remains highly popular nearly 12 years after leaving office, delivered a comprehensive, unequivocal and glowing endorsement of Obama's presidency in a prime-time speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday night.

    "No president, no president - not me or any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage he found in just four years," Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention in the Time Warner Cable Arena.

    "He has laid the foundations for a new modern successful economy of shared prosperity and if you ever need the president's contract: You will feel it. You will feel it folks.

    "Folks, whether the American people believe what I said or not may be the whole election, I just want you to know that I believe it. With all my heart I believe it."

    Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from Charlotte, said Obama came over to Clinton after the speech to "personally thank him, and to show that they are the closest of friends".

    Our correspondent also spoke with Linda Moore Forbes, former deputy political director under the Clinton administration, about the length of Obama's speech, which was supposed to be 28 minutes but lasted almost an hour.

    "Think of his State of the Union addresses, he would make things up, put things in because he's there to make a compelling argument and to tell the story," Forbes said.

    "And no one does it better than he does."

    Direct rebuttal

    Clinton, president between 1993 and 2001, said Obama had "stopped the slide into depression, ... knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children and keep their hopes alive".

    He also offered a direct rebuttal to Republican nominee Mitt Romney's claim that Obama had not left them better off than they were four years ago.


    Patty Culhane reports on how Obama's foreign policy promises have met reality 

    "Are we where we want to be? No. Is the president satisfied? No. Are we better off than we were when he took office, the answer is Yes," Clinton said.

    Obama joined him on stage at the end of the address, in a symbolic uniting of two Democratic eras, signifying a warming of the relationship between two men who once had testy ties.

    At the start of his speech, Clinton formally nominated Obama as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.

    "I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States and I proudly nominate him to the standard bearer of the Democratic Party," he said.

    "I want a man who believes with no doubt that we can build a new American Dream economy.

    "After last night, I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama."

    The last remark drew cheers and smiles from the First Lady watching from a box the night after her own convention speech.

    Democrats' 'superstar'

    The nearly 6,000 delegates and thousands of Democratic activists in the auditorium roared with approval when Clinton strode on the stage to the music from his own campaign theme song, Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop (Thinkin' About Tomorrow).

    Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from the convention, said Clinton is "a superstar in political circles".

    "Despite all the ups and downs of his presidency... he is still absolutely loved by Democrats," she said.

    "He burst onto the political scene in 1992, and really rewrote the rules of presidential campaigning, and some even called him 'America's first black president'.

    "While he was in the White House, the economy was booming, and that is the message that he will be trying to send tonight to the crowd of nearly 5,000 here, plus the millions watching at home, that Democratic economic principles can help this economy recover."

    Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, was also due to speak on Wednesday night, while addresses by Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood president, and activist Sandra Fluke were expected to show the divide between Democrats and Republicans on matters of reproductive rights.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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