CHARLOTTE — Former President Bill Clinton gave a rousing defence of President Barack Obama’s handling of the weak US economy yesterday and launched a detailed attack on Republican Mitt Romney in a speech that electrified the Democratic National Convention.
Folksy, long on detail and showing he is still a master orator nearly 12 years after he left office, Clinton gave a more cogent defence of Obama’s actions as president than perhaps the current resident of the White House himself has given.
Obama, he said, should not be blamed for the poor economy he inherited in 2009 and has set the foundations for strong growth – if voters will give him more time and re-elect him on November 6.
“Listen to me now,” said Clinton. “No president – not me, not any of my predecessors – could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.”
The speech was vintage Clinton, and proof that despite a series of heart ailments that have not slowed down the 66-year-old, he still relishes the political limelight.
Frequently departing from his prepared remarks, Clinton painted Obama as a reasonable man prevented from creating more jobs and reducing the budget deficit by a Republican Party in the grip of its extreme right wing.
His speech, given shortly before the Democrats formally nominated Obama for a second term, was a reminder of the budget surpluses and job growth Clinton led in the 1990s during his two terms in the White House.
Whether it will be enough to help keep Obama in office is an open question. Obama finds himself in a vulnerable position with the U.S. jobless rate at 8.3 per cent. Polls show a tight race between him and Romney. Obama addresses the convention today, and on Friday, the Labour Department will give a figure on the jobless rate for August.
If Americans “renew the president’s contract,” the economy will get better and “you will feel it,” Clinton said. (Reuters)