CHARLOTTE - U.S. President Barack Obama arrived at the jam-packed Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, to be officially nominated for re-election by former President Bill Clinton.
"We are here to nominate a president, and I've got one in mind," the former president jokingly said at the start of his speech, saying that he wanted "to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for president to change the course of an already weak economy, and then, just six weeks before the election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression. A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery."
Clinton likely provided the most effective endorsement Obama could have received, by a former president who is is still enormously popular with Democrats, with Clinton, lauding the U.S. president for successfully balancing the budget, or, as Clinton put it, in cleaning "the mess" created by the Republicans.
Recalling his own experience in dealing with a bad economy, Clinton said that "no president could have repaired all the damage in just four years," adding, however, that the situation was improving, and saying that if the Americans "renew the President's contract," they will feel it. "I believe that with all my heart," he said.
Clinton went on to present the Democratic vision for the U.S. economy, saying that "Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think 'we're all in this together' is a better philosophy than 'you're on your own.'"
Last week, Republicans claimed Obama had already had enough time to prove his policies are working - and failed. Clinton insisted Obama inherited the problems from the Republican administration, exactly as he had.
More than once in his speech, while playing the part of mentor, Clinton offered a lesson in arithmetic with an example. He compared between the Democrats' and Republicans' job creating records. "In 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million."
Clinton called the Democratic approach - "advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment," saying it is both morally right and good economics. "Discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it."
The major goal of this convention is to justify President Obama's record, despite the 8.3% unemployment, and that's exactly what Clinton did, arguing that he "laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators," while stressing that the problem is still far from being solved.
In two cases, commenting on the Republicans criticism of Obama's policies on Medicare and on the welfare reform bill, Clinton provided detailed rebuttal, starting with stating "here's what happened". Clinton went on comparing between Obama's plan to reduce debt - and his opponent's.
"I think the president's plan is better than the Romney plan, because the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: The numbers don't add up... People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic... Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left."
According to the former U.S. president, Americans have to decide what kind of country they want to live in. "If you want to be on your own, in a winner takes all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden".
"I know we're coming back," Clinton said, "for more than 200 years, through every crisis, we've always come out stronger than we went in. And we will again as long as we do it together."Of course, he reminded the audience, in order to make it happen, "we have to re-elect President Barack Obama".
Then President Obama went on stage. The two hugged, waved to the crowd, shook some hands, and left. Obama's motorcade left the area before midnight, while delegates went on with a roll-call vote on the nomination.
Clinton also referred to Obama's seemingly distant demeanor, as opposed to his closeness, friendly handshakes and wide smiles, saying Obama is "cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside."
The first part of Clinton's speech seemed almost like a stand-up comedy routine that included occasional jokes and personal asides, prompting the crowd jump to its feet with applause and laughter. Calling Obama "a man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy," Clinton didn't forget to add that he "had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama."
Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was in the arena, listening intently to her, while wife and Secretary of State, Hillary, was on a mission to East Asia. This is the first Democratic convention Hillary Clinton has missed since 1968.
Barack Obama will give his big acceptance speech later on Thursday. Because of the inclement weather forecasts the Democratic National Convention Committee has decided to move the event from the Bank of America stadium to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first two days of the convention were held.
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