The Washington Post

Bill Clinton makes passionate case for Obama

"Are you better off?" has become a mantra of Mitt Romney's campaign. On Wednesday night, former president Bill Clinton embraced the question.

"Are we where want to be? No," he told a rapt audience. "Is the President satisfied? No. Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? The answer is yes."

Later he added, "I love our country so much – and I know we're coming back."

While most of the major Democratic convention speeches thus far have highlighted personal biography, Clinton needs no introduction. He devoted his lengthy remarks almost entirely to policy and governing philosophy. He began with an attack on Republicans for resisting compromise and touted Obama's policies on the auto industry, energy production, health-care and more.

The speech seemed designed not just to fire up Obama supporters but to provide them with talking points. "You need to tell every voter where you live about this," he said of Obama's student loan policy. "Don't you ever forget," he said repeatedly.

As he often does, Clinton reportedly worked on his speech until the last minute, and sizable chunks were ad-libbed. Praising Obama's ability to move beyond politics, he joked -- "He even hired Hillary!" Attacking Paul Ryan for lambasting Medicare cuts that are in his own budget, he improvised, "You gotta say one thing, it's takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you just did."

The speech was longer than the one Clinton gave in 1988, when he was applauded just for finally getting off-stage. But 24 years later, no one seemed to mind.

Obama came on stage and linked arms with Clinton, to huge applause.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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