Clinton: Give Obama time to clean up GOP ‘mess’
By: Alexander Burns
September 5, 2012 06:16 PM EDT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bill Clinton will tell delegates at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that Republicans left President Barack Obama “a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet” and that the incumbent president deserves another four years to implement his vision for the country.
In early excerpts of the former president’s remarks, Clinton amplifies on the message Democrats delivered on the first day of the convention Tuesday, describing Obama as a champion of the middle class and Republicans as hostile to the interests of regular people.
It’s an argument other Democrats will pick up in their remarks throughout the evening; chief among them is Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor beloved by Democrats activists, who is scheduled to speak shortly before Clinton.
“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s reelection was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in,” Clinton will say. “I like the argument for President Obama’s reelection a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy; put a floor under the crash; began the long, hard road to recovery; and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for the innovators.”
Clinton continues, framing the election philosophically: “The most important question is: What kind of country do you want to live in?”
“If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket,” Clinton will say. “If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
Warren, with her fervent liberal following, and Clinton, the wildly popular former president, are both among the most anticipated speakers of the week. With Clinton’s personal approval ratings clocking in near 70 percent — and his eight years in office chiefly remembered for their economic prosperity — there are few messengers better equipped to speak up on Obama’s behalf.
In an interview with NBC News, Clinton said his speech would not spend much time touting his accomplishments in office — then proceeded to do just that: “People know we had the longest economy— economic expansion in history, they know we produced four surplus budgets, and they know that the incomes rose to an all-time high. They know we moved a lot more people out of poverty than before or after I left. That’s not what this is about. This is about the choice for the American people.”
Clinton has not always been a steadfast surrogate for this White House. Earlier this summer, Clinton veered off message by calling Mitt Romney’s business career “sterling” and waving Democrats away from attacks on the private equity industry.
Clinton will be the final speaker of the evening, following Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who is beloved by the Democrats’ liberal base for her tough-on-Wall-Street rhetoric.
But before any of the major speakers took the stage, the convention veered off course Wednesday afternoon when Democrats reopened the party platform to amend its language referring to Israel. The original version of the platform did not refer to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Over loud boos from some delegates, forcing multiple votes on the revision, Democrats updated the text to avoid offending supporters of Israel, particularly in the Jewish community.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the change was made “to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008.”
“Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel,” the Florida congresswoman said. “Our party platform already expresses strong support for the peace process and makes clear the steps that any Palestinian partner must take to be a part of such a process — recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence and adhering to existing agreements.”
It was an unwelcome distraction for Democrats, who have battled criticism from Republicans throughout the 2012 race for allegedly failing to support Israel.
That wasn’t the only moment Wednesday that veered from the Democrats’ plan. Convention organizers also announced that the final night of the gathering would not take place at Bank of America Stadium, as planned, but rather at the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the rest of the proceedings have been held. Democrats cited the weather as the reason for the decision, which will leave tens of thousands of Obama supporters unable to see his acceptance speech tomorrow.
But those flaps only delayed for a short while the gleeful denunciations of the Republican presidential nominee that dotted yesterday’s proceedings. Before long, Democrats were back to the 2012 task they seem to love best: beating the heck out of Mitt Romney.
AFL-President Richard Trumka turned the GOP’s “We Built That” refrain back on Romney, saying that the Republican doesn’t understand the meaning of work.
“Mitt Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work or responsibility,” Trumka said. “We’re the ones who built America. We’re the ones who built it every single day.”
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, warned that Republicans would threaten women’s rights and popular entitlement programs for senior citizens.
“When you go to the polls, vote for Medicare. Vote for President Obama,” she urged. “When you go to the polls, vote for women’s rights. Vote for President Obama.”
And Boston Mayor Tom Menino picked up where Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick left off Monday, swatting at Romney from the perspective of a fellow Bay Stater and accusing him of having “made a lot of decisions that were bad for our state.”
“He promised to bring business to the state, but when he was in office, Massachusetts was 47th out of all 50 states in job creation,” Menino said, repeating a frequent Democratic attack line. “In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had the one job in his life that’s closest to being president, and he wasn’t all that good at it.”
Said Menino: “We have a clear choice to make. Will we move forward together? Or will we go back to the trickle-down philosophies that Mitt Romney believes in?”