No one hypnotizes a crowd like the 42nd president. Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention to thunderous applause and multiple standing ovations. Discarding the prompters, in typical Clintonian fashion, the former president made a spectacular case for Barack Obama’s re-election to fervent followers at the Convention. Here are his best moments:
‘We’re All in This Together’
To the fitting anthem of “Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” blasting into the convention hall, President Clinton took to the stage. “We’re here to nominate a president, and I’ve got one in mind,” Clinton began his speech with—and no, it’s not Hillary. I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside…A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama,” he joked, as the audience gave a laughing Michelle a standing ovation.
‘Heck, He Appointed Hillary’
Why re-elect Obama? Clinton doesn’t come up short for reasons—especially that Obama appointed Hillary Clinton. Obama, he said, was always willing to play bipartisan, but the Republicans wouldn’t have it, and now they’re blaming him for failures. “Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader, in a remarkable moment of candor, said two years before the election, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work,” Clinton said, in a moment that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. “Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we’re going to keep President Obama on the job!”
"Are We Better Off Than We Were Four Years Ago? Yes"
The Republican strategy is predictable and backwards, Clinton said. “There they go again,” referencing a famous Reagan line about returning to bad ideas and turning it against the late president’s (and almost hologram’s) party. “They want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to increase defense spending two trillion dollars more than the Pentagon has requested,” he listed out. But throughout this opposition, President Obama has done the best job he could. With the crowd yelling answers, Clinton asked: “Are we where we want to be? Is the President satisfied? Are we better off than we were when he took office?” The crowded responded with a roaring “yes!” No president could have reversed America’s free falling economy in four years, but things will improve under Obama, according to Clinton, who said he “believes that with all my heart.”
Obama Didn’t Rob Medicare
What many politicians steer away from in their speeches—long lists of statistics and policy details—Clinton embraces and, frankly, owns. Taking a look at health care, he rattles off details of “Obamacare,” asserting that we’re better off now that Obama fought for insurance for young people, preventative care for seniors and lowered rates. As for Medicare? Romney and Ryan are wrong, Obama didn’t “rob Medicare of 716 billion dollars,” he strengthened it. “There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service.” In fact, Clinton says, “that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget. It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
‘I Love Our Country So Much’
Why vote for Barack Obama? Clinton really drilled it in during his last few minutes (as the TV producers breathed a sigh of relief). “If you want America to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters—you should support Barack Obama.” The audience, at this point, was barely containable. “I love our country so much,” Clinton continued. “People have predicted our demise ever since George Washington was criticized for being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth.” But betting against America has never been wise, he said. “We decide to champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor — the cause of forming a more perfect union,” Clinton yelled in a triumphant finish. “My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama.” And as the audience jumped out of their seats, Obama came onto the stage to hug his most important supporter and close the second night of the Democratic National Convention.
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'I never said this journey would be easy,' the president told Americans Thursday, 'and I won't promise that now.' But the hope that drove him into office in 2008 remains, he said; he still believes in Americans' ability to 'pull each other up' and travel the hard road to economic recovery together.
From Darrell Hammond’s Clinton impression to Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Jerusalem, see the best moments.